Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A New Diagnosis. My Advice.

Recently, it seems as though I've received the same message from friends:

"Someone I know just got diagnosed with brain cancer, the same type as your dad. Could I give them your contact information if they want to talk?"

And as you all can imagine, my heart breaks to see this message and it's always no questions asked if they can have my contact information- I give my email, my cell phone, my address- heck come visit me at my house! Because during those first few weeks of Dad's diagnosis, we would have given anything to have someone to talk to, to help figure out what we should do next. 

But because I know others are not nearly as open as we have been, some have such a hard time talking about a new diagnosis- chemotherapy, radiation, MRI's, (and let's not forget) the horrible results when you google "glioblastoma" or even "brain cancer"- I thought I would share some advice I would give to anyone newly diagnosed. 

My first piece of advice- do NOT google "Glioblastoma". The internet is filled with a lot of information- and I've used the internet as a great resource for treatments for Dad, but it took me a very long time after his diagnosis to actually google "glioblastoma", and I'm so glad I didn't right away. In a time where you may feel so incredibly discouraged by a cancer diagnosis, I encourage you to instead look to those who have BEAT this disease as a source of HOPE. You'll find that many who are long term survivors are so busy LIVING that they don't have time to post anything negative on the internet. 

My next piece of advice, lean on your faith or find your faith. This advice is so much easier to write than it is to live sometimes, as my faith was truly tested when Dad was diagnosed. I struggled with the "why us?", and "how could You do something so bad to MY Dad?"- but, if you've read my blog before, you know that these questions filled with hate, turned into prayers filled with thankfulness and love. I can't imagine this journey without my faith- knowing that walking hand in hand with me is this amazing God that is SO much bigger than this cancer. 

Another piece of advice, find a doctor you trust 100%. From the moment Dr. Fleener walked into Dad's ICU room, we knew she was OUR doctor. I know enough about upcoming treatments to understand some of the options Dr. Fleener discusses with us during appointments, but we lean on her to guide us through Dad's cancer journey. Again, the internet is a great resource, but having a great doctor is an even better resource. Find someone you're comfortable with, because you'll be sharing all sorts of things with them that you didn't even know could be a side effect of treatment and radiation. 

And my final BIG piece of advice- take it all ONE day at a time (heck, there were some days that we took it just 5 minutes at a time). Because there will be really good days in your cancer journey, and there will be some truly bad days- but the good will out weigh the bad, this I can promise you. Find a support system to help you take it all one day at a time, and continue to LIVE. My mom always says, "We will not wait to die, we will continue to live." and she takes that to heart each and every day. 

As one of my favorite devotional reads: 
"Follow me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you're going to scale those heights...But you don't know what will happen today, much less tomorrow...If I do lead you up cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for the strenuous climb. Walk by faith, not by sight."

For those who have been recently diagnosed, know that on this journey you are not alone, as you've got lots of other brain cancer families that have walked this path before you and are here for you to lean on, cry with, and be a support system of those that just get it. 

The chemotherapy sucks. The radiation sucks. The Avastin sucks. And the medical bills all suck. But I promise there is so much GOOD in this journey, GOOD that far outweighs the bad- and sometimes you don't have to look that hard to see it all. 

You'll find family and friends that go above and beyond, you'll even find strangers doing the same- reminding you that throughout some of our most difficult times, we do have something to be thankful for. 

Continue fighting through this journey, remember that one bad MRI is not defining of your cancer journey, and never give up the HOPE for a cure. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

4th of July. Dad Update 7/11/2017

Ok, as usual, I'm a little behind in my blog updates- but as I've said before, no news is usually really good news. 

The Glenz family celebrated the 4th of July with lots of parties, a snake in the car, and a minor grass fire. I mean, we clearly like to keep it interesting. 

(Don't worry, we found the snake and put out the small grass fire all before the day was done.)

Dad was a BIG help around the house, helping get the yard ready for our little party and the inside of the house. He really doesn't realize how awesome it is seeing him out mowing grass. It's amazing how far he's come in his brain cancer journey. 

Here are just a few pictures from the celebrations:

Luke & Chad enjoying the fireworks at Independence

Baby Reid having a blast at his first 4th of July

Mom & Dad enjoying the beautiful weather, and Mom enjoying a few glasses of wine

And Miss Hallie Rae celebrating her 1st Birthday on July 4th

We take each of these little celebrations as such a BIG blessing throughout Dad's cancer journey. With another MRI quickly approaching, we continue to be thankful for each day and pray Dad's MRI remains the same. 

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers, and thank you all for helping us BTHO Brain cancer!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father's Day 2017. 6/15/2017

I think back to October 5, 2013 all the time. The day of Dad's seizure. And then I think back to that cold hospital room where we heard the news. Cancer. I feared Thanksgiving and Christmas where Dad wasn't there, I feared birthdays and special moments without him, and I feared a Father's Day without celebrating the best Dad in the world. 

And it's amazing, because when I think back on this and then pull out my devotional...I find God speaking to my heart so clearly: 

"Apart from Me you can do nothing. On days when the tasks before you seem overwhelming, remember this: I am with you, ready to help. Take a moment to rest in My loving Presence. Whisper: Surely the Lord is in this place."

Well, in honor of my amazing Dad, here's my Father's Day letter:

Dad,

You probably don't remember this, as those days after your seizure were a whirlwind, but there was a conversation, a moment that to this day gives me chills. It was the moment I knew I had the most selfless Dad in the entire world. It was the moment that I realized I was so blessed that God chose you for me. 

We received the diagnosis: Brain Cancer. And as the doctor shared with us what was going on in your brain, and as my brain went in 100 different directions, your response was one that was calm, one that I will never forget. Instead of asking the doctor "what's next?", or "why me?", you responded with a question: "Can I give this to my girls?" My heart stopped. 

So to the most selfless man in the world, let me share with you why you're the most amazing Dad a girl could ever ask for. 

You've managed to take each day with a house filled with women in stride. You witnessed your girls fail a bit when it came to doing some things that you do so very well...like when I mowed grass and put the blade ALL the way down and (as you said) "mowed dirt". Or that time Meghan and Mom thought they would be super helpful and mow while you were at work, only to realize they put the wrong type of fuel in the lawnmower. 

Or maybe that time you came into the garage to find that Genna "forgot" to put the garage door up and backed right into it. Or it could be the time that Mom locked herself out of her car, and the answering machine happened to record y'alls entire message...I think we still get a kick out of that conversation. 

There's a common theme here, one in which one of your girls manage to "mess things up a bit", and you responded with your same patience and determination that you handle everything in life. 

I can count on one hand the times you've yelled at me, and looking back, I think you could have yelled a bit more (seriously, I was kinda a terrible child). 

You've always been the Dad that went to every softball game (heck you were usually the coach), and at the end of the game, regardless if we won or lost, we talked about what we could have done better. You were always focused on us improving and doing our absolute best. 

We are so lucky that God chose YOU to be our Dad. To walk with us through the good, and bad times, to teach us that patience and determination can really fix most situations, and throughout it all doing your absolute best is big part of life. 

So this Father's Day, know how much we appreciate YOU and all the things that you continue to do for us girls (okay, and now Luke & Reid). Here's to many more Father's Days and everyday with YOU!

Much Love, (Your favorite daughter)

Whitney





Friday, June 9, 2017

Hi, Yes We Are Still Here. Dad Update 6/9/2017

Hi, yes sorry I realized today that my last post was when my adorable nephew was born, and that's been ALMOST one month now- wow how time flies when you're having fun!

We have been staying busy, as the summer days have proven to be even MORE busy than we could have imagined- between graduation parties, weddings, baptisms, and family vacations- we have been running from one thing to the other!

Dad continues to feel well, as it's been almost a year since he stopped chemotherapy! Our next MRI isn't scheduled until the end of July, and right now that seems so far away! Y'all, I can't even begin to share how "weird" it is to not have appointments at the Cancer Clinic at least once a month- but it's a "weird" that I will gladly take!

Dad was recently featured on the Cancer Clinic's Facebook page in honor of Brain Cancer Awareness Month. 


As always, I'm so incredibly proud of these two- their fight, faith and unconditional love continues to inspire us each day. 

So that's all for now, thank you all for your love and support, and thanks for helping us BTHO Brain Cancer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dad Update. 5/17/2017

It's been a busy week in the Glenz household. Dad's been out mowing & shredding, oh and taking care of a fairly LARGE garden (not exactly sure how we are going to eat all those veggies!), while Mom is continuing on with staying ever so busy- running from one thing to the next, and making sure Dad is along for the ride. 

And then we welcomed a new little one to our family

Mr. Reid Eliot Windam


Born on 5/12/2017, 8 lbs 1oz, 20.5 inches long- he's a BIG boy!

Mom, Dad and baby are all doing well!

These grandbabies have been such a JOY to Dad (& Mom!), as it has given Dad something to look forward to each day. We are so thankful for Luke, Hallie & Reid!



Thank you all for the continued thoughts and prayers, it's still unreal to us that over 3.5 years later, Dad is with us and doing so well! Thank you all for helping us BTHO Brain Cancer!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Mother's Day Letter.

With Mother's Day approaching this weekend, it's given me a perfect time to sit and reflect on the amazing Mom I have in my life, because without her we would have all crumbled so long ago.

So here's my little 'Thank You'.

Dear Mom,

On this Mother's Day it's easy to thank you for all the ways you've been the rock of our family these last 3.5 years, but I think this Mother's Day we should go back a bit farther- because you've really been the rock of our family far before Dad's diagnosis. 

Thank you Mom for your constant love and support, for listening to me cry in college when I got my first failing grade, and reminding me that you are proud when we do our best, you just weren't sure if that was my best. By the way, you may have been right. (I still blame Hurricane Harry's)

Thank you Mom for teaching me that a good glass of wine can make any evening just a little bit better, especially when you're sharing that wine with family and friends. And thank you for constantly reminding me to "stay in control"...although I'm not sure why you keep doing that. ;)

Thank you Mom for allowing me live with you and Dad following his diagnosis, for allowing me take Dad to treatments, yell at insurance companies for you, and witness the true strength of both you and Dad throughout this journey. You've both inspired me in ways that words can't even begin to describe. 

Thank you Mom for showing me that having faith in a journey that feels so incredibly broken can help you through some of the darkest of times. And this same faith can help you truly appreciate the small things in life.

And thank you for being such an incredible friend to each of us girls, for being the one we call when all seems to be going wrong, and the first one we call when we have something to celebrate. You always seem to find the right words to say to help us through each day. 

So on this Mother's Day, know that you are so very loved for all that you do for each of us and that we are so proud to call you "Mom", and most importantly "friend".

Love, 

Your Favorite Daughter (ok just kidding...but seriously)

Whitney









Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dad Update. 4/27/2017

It's a "Dad Update" that involves very little updates- which is always a good thing!

We last met with Dr. Fleener on March 22, where Dr. Fleener left us with a follow up appointment with Dad's general physician and the words, "Now that we don't have to worry about a tumor, we've gotta worry about other things that can happen when you get older!"

So we did some blood work and it looks like all of Dad's counts are right in line where they should be, and his blood pressure continues to be monitored to ensure it's staying in a normal range. 

Since then, Mom and Dad have completely re-done the front yard, are working on a garden, and constantly outside mowing and working in the flower beds (even killing a pretty good sized snake one day!). Just yesterday Mom told me Dad was out on the shredder while she worked in the back yard. Y'all, God is so very good. 

Our next MRI is scheduled for July, which seems so very far away- yet I know it will sneak up on us before we know it. So until then, we plan to enjoy the nice weather and be so very thankful for each and every day. 

Yesterday I received a message from another family impacted by brain cancer. A message asking for help, to be a contact for someone and provide HOPE to them. I immediately called Mom. 

I wanted to share with Mom this message because often times we are so boggled down in the pain and the suffering that we've experienced these last 3.5 years. Sometimes we find ourselves thinking back to what life was like before Dad's diagnosis, instead of focusing on how far we've come. 

I was reminded in that moment (and shared with Mom these same thoughts!) that Dad's pain and suffering has such GREAT purpose- and how amazing it is that we are able to witness this purpose each time another brain cancer family reaches out to us. We've found the purpose in our pain, to be a resource to others and walk hand in hand with them throughout this journey.

Now believe me, I don't wish this process on anyone, but it's given me a perspective that many will never have. I tell Dad I love him every day, I go by their house often (probably more often than my parents would like!), and I constantly remind myself how exceptionally lucky we are. 

Dad doesn't always realize it, but he's the true backbone and strength of our family. He continues to inspire people that he's never even met. He continues to inspire each of us each day. 

I'm not sure how he does it. I'm not sure how he managed through two brain surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy, six intense weeks of radiation, and all of the physical & speech therapy, but he managed it pretty darn well. No complaints. No apprehension. He took it one day at a time, one step at a time, and leaned on this incredible faith through it all. 

Reflecting today on how good God really is, how through pain there is purpose, and through suffering there is strength. 

Thank you all for continuing on this journey with us, as we continue fighting to BTHO Brain Cancer.