Friday, August 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Lar! 8/18/2017

Today marks Dad's 63rd birthday, and 3 years & 10 months as a brain cancer survivor! Clearly we have A LOT to be celebrating!

Dad is still off of all treatments, as it's been one year since we decided to stop his chemotherapy- one amazing year of Dad not having to take those dreaded chemo pills that made him sick for weeks, one amazing year with MRIs that have shown no signs of cancer, and one amazing year celebrating each little moment in our lives. It's crazy to think when this whole journey started Dad was not yet a "Paw-Paw", and now he's got THREE little ones that he gets to spoil. 

Dad's cancer is unpredictable, and we are all too aware that at any moment Dad can show signs of growth or an MRI can show his tumor returning- but we are also all too aware of how LUCKY we are. It's something we do not take lightly, as we appreciate the little things, and celebrate Dad each chance we get. 

So as usual, here's my Birthday Letter to the best Daddy in the world. 

Dad, 

Today we celebrate your 63rd birthday. And on this day, I thought I would share with you my birthday wishes to you:

Dad, I wish for there to many more birthdays for us to celebrate- as Luke, Hallie & Reid have so much to learn from you as they get older. Don't worry, you can start the stories with "This one time your Aunt Stevie...", as I know I'm a good example of what NOT to do a lot of the time. 

Dad, I wish for you to try and grasp the true impact you've made on this crazy world- as your brain cancer fight has inspired so many others, especially me. 

Dad, I wish for you to know how proud we all are of you- through the most difficult times in your life,  you've managed to smile, push forward, and never complain. 

And Dad, my final wish is that you continue to enjoy each day- that you never let your cancer journey define you, instead take cancer as just a chapter in your amazing book of life. 

Wishing you many more birthdays!

Whitney

Y'all, as I write this letter I could have never imagined in October of 2013 getting to celebrate Dad's 63rd birthday- but this just proves that God's plan is so much bigger than cancer. It just proves that we serve a pretty amazing God, one that has "designed us to walk through this world in trusting dependence on Him. He lovingly go before us and opens up the way, carefully preparing the path we will follow. He removes many dangers and obstacles from the road ahead, and helps us handle the difficulties that remain."

Knowing that life is all too short, knowing that we are truly the lucky ones in this battle against cancer, knowing all these things makes birthdays just a little bit sweeter. Hugging Dad extra tight today, and celebrating him a little bit more on this special day. 



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Finding Purpose In Pain. 8/2/2017

"God promises us pain."

Words I keep trying to repeat over and over again. 

This week my heart has been so heavy with the news of two brain cancer fighters, both who lost their battle way too early. 

I was reconnected with one of these fighters just this year, in January to be exact, with a message that said, "I want to let you know that reading your blogs have really been helping a lot. Especially my parents."

Our conversations were fairly constant over these last months, reaching out to ask how treatments were going, letting her know our family was praying so very hard, and just being there to provide some sort of hope for her. 

And as much as I tried to constantly lift her spirits and provide her hope, it was really the complete opposite, as each and every conversation left me being reminded that God truly gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Each conversation reminded me that faith can truly be bigger than any fear. 

Her words spoke volumes of her attitude, strength and faith, as here are just a few words from our conversations over the last few months:

"I have been blessed with amazing doctors, my family and friends have been so amazing through everything."

"Things are going well other than that. Trying to stay healthy and find joy in the little things...It's great to hear that your dad is doing SO well!..."

"We are all gonna beat it together! And your family has, and will continue, to be in our prayers as well!"

Each time, each conversation had me thinking- wow, I hope a little bit of her strength, her faith, and her will to fight rubs off on me so I can help Dad through his battle.  

You know, so many people go through this world- living day by day, not truly understanding how important each and every moment really is, never really making a great impact on this world. And yet, here was this young lady, making such a HUGE impact in her short time here. Impacting others through her fight.

Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas and a brain cancer survivor, has said "Suffering. Difficulty. It should surprise no one." And while this is true, I just wish it didn't hurt so bad. 

Asking for a few extra prayers as two families battle through the suffering after the fight is over- the suffering of losing their loved one to this terrible disease. We continue to hope and pray for a cure so no family has to experience the pain of losing someone to cancer. 

I'll be hugging Dad a little bit tighter, and I'll make sure I soak up those precious moments with him a little bit more- I'm once again reminded that life is all too short. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

4 Month MRI Update. 7/26/2017

It's been 4 months since our last MRI. 4 months?!? 

We were spending hours at the Cancer Clinic every two weeks for Avastin treatment and appointments with Dr. Fleener- I have joked before that the Cancer Clinic became our second home- And now, it's been weird not being there for 4 months. 

Dad's MRI was GREAT! He is still considered to be in remission, as there is no sign of tumor or any indication that the cancer is back. Y'all, God is very good. 

My devotional today was just perfect, as when I'm asked what is our "secret" to Dad's success- my response is always our faith and the amazing power of prayer. 

(Oh, and the countless people supporting us on this journey- friends and family, y'all have been AMAZING!)

"I broaden the path beneath you so that your ankles do not turn. This shows how intricately I am involved in your life-journey. I know exactly what is before you, and I can alter the path ahead of you to make your way easier. Sometimes I enable you to see what I have done on your behalf...My work to widen the way before you demonstrates how lovingly I am involved in your life...From your perspective, My workings are often mysterious. I do not protect you- or anyone- from all adversities...you will never have to suffer alone. I have promised: I am with you always!"

And with us always He has been. 

Dad will have another MRI in 4 months, which should fall after Thanksgiving. So between now and then we have lots to celebrate- Dad's birthday is coming up in August and his 4 year cancer-versary in October. 

Y'all, we are coming up on 4 years! How crazy!

I truly never thought we would have this much time with Dad, as we were given those same scary statistics that all glioblastoma patients get- but it is clear that God is using Dad for a much greater purpose than we could all ever imagine here on Earth. 

I can't even begin to count the number of MRI's Dad has had over these last (almost!) 4 years, but what doesn't change for each MRI is the gut-wrenching feeling I get while waiting for those results. Scan-anxiety is such a real thing, as you wait for those words from the doctor- words that could make life change in an instant. 

We realize we are some of the "lucky ones" when it comes to this beast of glioblastoma, and that's something we do not take lightly. We continue to support brain cancer research, bring awareness to a disease that has so little funding and research, and provide HOPE to others with this diagnosis. 

We can't thank you all enough for continuing to love, support, and pray for us throughout this journey. We wouldn't have survived it all without friends and family throughout each step of the way.

We've had good MRI's, and we've had bad MRI's, but one thing that remains constant is Dad's unbelievable strength, determination, and faith in this journey- cancer truly met his match when it tried to get to Dad. 

Thank you all again, and thanks for helping us BTHO Brain Cancer!

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!