I am asking for all of you that believe in a gracious mighty God, that you would pray especially for two dear little lives and for their families.
Some of you may remember the, “Stronger,” video one of our AML hospital friends put together earlier this spring. If it’s been a while, check it out again here and look for Stellablue – she’s the one holding a “Hope” sign while her dad, Andy, holds her little sister, Soren, and pulls her IV pole.
This past January 2012, I was in Bozeman visiting Solveig who was here living with her grandparents while Allistaire was in the hospital. It was at this time that I first heard about Miss Stellablue who is from Bozeman and who was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer. As I sat in Burger Bob’s in Bozeman and read the Bozeman Chronicle article about her, I was stunned to learn that she and her family were also at Seattle Children’s. I immediately felt a strong bond to them and planned to search them out once I returned to Seattle. I didn’t have to look hard. It turned out that they were in the very room next door to Allistaire. To meet Andy and Andrea Woods, Stellablue’s parents, is like experiencing a living bit of Bozeman, Montana. They were a breath of fresh air and made me feel strangely homesick. Over the following 6 months, I had many occasions to walk the halls with Andy while he held little Soren. Stellablue’s little sister, Soren, was just two weeks old when they first came to the hospital in September 2011. I treasured each conversation with Andrea as well. Both of our families rejoiced in hoping that one day – probably sometime in June, we would all be in Bozeman with cancer-free kids, settled into our homes and enjoying the magnificent beauty of Montana and “normal” life.
It has turned out that Stellablue only had the summer at home. Routine CT scans back at Seattle Children’s revealed her cancer is back – in three spots on her lungs. Her dad, Andy, says that they are looking at having to be in Seattle for 6 months to a year this second time. These are Andy’s words from their most recent Caring Bridge update: “We had our meeting today with the Drs. It went kinda how we expected it to. Stellablue will get chemo, then they will collect her stem cells- as they say to rescue her – after the very strong chemo they will give her after that. If this doesn’t work then all we have left are clinical studies to try.”
More than anything, please pray for Stellablue and that the chemo would be effective. Please pray too that God would make Himself known to Andy and Andrea, that they would be held up by His great strength and know the comfort of the Holy Spirit. While prayer is the most important need, the reality is that all of this is extremely financially straining. They have already had a 10-month stay in the hospital and now they are looking at another 6-12 months. Andrea really needs Andy to be out there in Seattle as well because if little Soren gets sick, which most 1 year-olds do about every other day, she cannot be in the hospital caring for Stellablue. Andy’s presence is essential and yet he is also the breadwinner of the family. As a tiler, his business is in Bozeman and thus not something he can do on the road. If you have the means and desire to help them out, there is a Wells Fargo account in which you can deposit on their behalf. The name of the account is, “Stella Blue Woods Family Benefit Donation Fund.”
To keep up on the details of what’s going on for Stellablue, go to www.caringbridge.org and type in “stellabluewoods” in the box to visit a site. There is also a Facebook page entitled, “Stella Blue Woods Family Benefit,” intended specifically for organizing help for their family.
Months later, in March 2012, I met Pam and Jason Shrauger. Because the hospital became my home for so many months, I was always very aware when new folks came. I keenly knew the fear of the unknown, then fear of a diagnosis and the overwhelming reality of a treatment plan and so I always hoped to find a way to show love and support to those who had just come to the hematology/oncology unit and were beginning their journey. So of course I was drawn to Pam when I saw her in the hall pushing baby Camryn in one of the little car strollers. Again, it was with mixed joy and sadness that I learned they were from Bozeman. I recall a few days later when the group of doctors came down the hall and indicated it was time to go into Caden’s room and discuss a diagnosis. I remember vividly seeing Jason leave that room sometime later – I knew the look on his face – now they knew – Caden has high-risk neuroblastoma. They were told that it would take 15 months to treat Caden beginning with months of chemo, then a stem-cell transplant, then anti-body therapy…
All seemed to be going well until this August when it became clear that the chemo was no longer sufficiently effective. Caden was take off of the standard protocol and only days ago finished a week in San Francisco for experimental MIBG therapy which delivers high levels of radiation to neuroblastoma cells, hopefully destroying them and not too much else in the process. In the coming weeks, they wait for Caden’s radioactivity level to drop and expect to get scans the week after Thanksgiving to determine how effective the therapy was. If all is well, they will be back on track for a transplant in December.
Please consider including Caden and his parents, Pam and Jason, in your prayers as well. You can get regular, nightly in fact, updates on Caden also at www.caringbridge.org and type in “cadenshrauger” into the box to visit a site. I am so thankful for these Caring Bridge sites which allow me to know how to specifically pray. You can sign up to get an email or text every time there is an update. If you are interested in ways to support Caden and his family you can go to www.team-fc.com. It is a strange joy to be bound to another sister-in-Christ, mom, cancer-fighter, Bozemanite – but I count it joy and privilege to know Pam despite the reality that has brought us together.
Thank you too for your continued prayers for Allistaire. As may becoming clearer, we are ever aware that every day with Allistaire is a gift and we cannot assume that she is done with cancer. Tomorrow, October 23rd, is her next doctor appointment and blood draw. Tomorrow marks the fifth monthly blood test and nearly the 6th month since the end of her treatment (she was officially discharged May 2nd). She seems to be doing well based on all her silly cute spazyness, but discerning what is going on for a 2 1/2 year old can be quite challenging.
Right now it is snowing and the whole world is turning white. So beautiful!