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You may remember that a number of weeks ago Mendelt asked about t-shirt printing. Well soon after Mendelt made some t-shirts. They said

If you have cancer, I have cancer.

.                                              –Jesus–

The results are in. Jesus’ cancer grew and spread again.

Today has been a punch in the face for us again. Our oncologist said that because the cancer has spread and grown again, chemotherapy is not an option at this point.

We sat at the top of the Hamilton mountain today to cry, pray and grow. I don’t know what else to say except that I don’t know how we got from diagnosis day (december 20) to today (august 30). It must be a peace that is inexplainable. A peace that is something that can’t be understood.

But it still hurts like crazy.

The next step is to wait for a couple of new ‘clinical trial’ doctors to call us. One is going to try to do some sort of something to the liver to make the blood stop flowing to the tumors and thus temporarily stop them from growing. Another doctor is going to call us and then discuss options. And then we go from there.

I’m not willing to accept the fact that this is going to get me. I still have too much life to live and I don’t feel like I’m done living it. I admit, I don’t understand why all our prayers have gone seemingly unanswered and I confess that I’m not so ready to be a martyr for this cause. I don’t understand why God would not let me live my life here on earth that He has so abundantly blessed me with. All these questions will get answered someday–it’s just so hard to wait. BUT, until then, we will keep living our lives one day at a time. The sun is still shining brightly and our kids are still as great as ever. We love them so much.

We continue to continue.

MaV and MdH

So, I went to the Henderson Hospital this afternoon.  Second floor.  The nurses who helped me were once again a pleasure to be around.  They gave me the drinks (to make my insides glow…) as well as the X-ray ‘juice’ (through a vein) and then took pictures of my abdomen.  The rest is in God’s hands.  I prayed the whole time I was there.  It was  a good time with God.  🙂

Thanks so much for your recent blog comments–they are very inspiring and encouraging. May God receive all the glory.

MaV

Hey.  This is Mendelt.

I can’t say thanks enough for the people that have sent comments today.  It means the world to Marisa and I.
Over time, support naturally wanes.  This is normal and just happens.  I do not say this with anger or disappointment.  I say this to emphasize how thankful I am for those who are still around with us and continue to leave uplifting comments.

Many, many thanks.

Peace and love,

MdH

Today was a bit of a bummer.

My white blood cell count was too low to be allowed to have chemo today or at all this week.

The scan is still scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, and we will find out the results on Thursday afternoon.  If all goes well on Thursday, my chemo will get rescheduled for next week.

The kids went to Pake and Beppe’s today and had a ball.  They went to the beach in Port Dalhousie and had fun in the sun.  Then we all got together at the homestead and enjoyed a delicious meal.   As we were preparing to leave and go back home, Zion and Jacoba didn’t want to go–they were having so much fun.  So, Mendelt’s parents offered to have them sleep over so they could play for a few more hours together.  Zion and Jacoba readily agreed.  It’s amazing how quickly we can be replaced!  🙂  It’s such a blessing to have loving grand parents so close by.

Please keep praying for peace, courage and healing.

Love Marisa

Imagine there was a young wonderful mother of three who led a good, kingdom furthering life and then cancer hit her, her family and those who love her?

Imagine that her family, friends, and church stormed the doors of heaven with prayers so that somehow this beautiful woman could live to see her kids grow old?

Imagine the much hopeful news about the growth of the cancer, the CT scans, the nuclear medicine tests didn’t reveal good news?

Imagine then after almost all hope was gone, after more than 8 months of sickness, fatigue, frustration and against-the-odds-positive-attitude,  after the laws of science and medicine were turned on their head, after the oncologists said that this was the last medical chance for healing, it was revealed that the cancer was gone?

Imagine then that God and Jesus were talking over a cup of tea (surely they wouldn’t drink coffee) about this inspirational servant that they spared only to see that the good work that was begun in this woman would be carried out until completion?

And that because of the good work that could continue it would send a ripple of hallelujah’s throughout the land that would resonate with those who really need to hear it?

Imagine?  I am.

It’s almost time again for chemo.  Round 3 of ????  I start again next Tuesday and then have a cat scan after chemo on Wednesday.  We’ll find out from Dr. Tozer on Tuesday when we’ll get the results from that cat scan.  Mendelt and I think it might be on the Thursday since I’ll be there at the clinic for my third day of chemo.  We hope that we can go out for a celebratory dinner on Thursday night.

We just came back from a few days of cottaging with my parents.  We had a great time on the lake and enjoyed all the great things about cottaging.  We were able to see some wildlife while we were there….we were pretty surprised to hear my dad tell us that we could go to the garbage dump 15 minutes away and see some black bears.  Zion and Jacoba were pretty impressed!  As of course were we.  They were very calm bears who were just interested in eating the food they could find in the garbage bags.  One night my parents saw 8 of them!  Mendelt and I and the kids only (only!) saw 4….

On a different note, I thought I’d point out that I managed to figure out how to add some more blogs under the ‘Friends of Marisa’ column.  (Sorry it took so long Alec!)  I’m not that ‘blog friendly’ but have managed to learn along the way.  We do know how to put pictures up, but since we have dial up, it takes a really long time… I look at other people’s blogs and they have lots of pictures up!  So, sorry our blog is so picture absent…you’ll just have to come see us in real life someday!

Love Marisa

December 20 (the day of diagnosis) seems like a lifetime ago.  As tomorrow approaches, it will mark the road that has been 8 months long.

When I think about the past 8 months, a few things have become clearer to me.

1st, the communion of the saints means something that it has never meant.

2nd, the Will of God will never take us where the Grace of God can not protect us is something that is both true and incredibly hard to swallow at times.

3rd, speaking to Marisa about death is healing and less scary everytime.

and 4th, Marisa is a daily inspiration.  You know those small square calendars that you can buy that have daily inspirational quotes from people that you don’t even know?  Living with Marisa is like that but in the flesh.

I’m reminded of the Paul Simon song that says we’ll “continue to continue” and as if he was writing about Marisa that “flowers never bend with the rainfall”.

Peace, stay strong.

MdH

I recently saw a gentleman that I have known for many years. I don’t know him well but always remember him as a kind, gentle man.

His name is Ivan. I think that his brothers were in some of my siblings classes and though I don’t know the family well, when we meet, I recognize them, and them me.

Ivan works at a grocery store and when I saw him, I called his name and he came over to see me. I just wanted to say hello. When he recognized who I was, he said this…

“Hello Mendelt. I wish I could say something happier to you but I can’t. I really wish that I could say something happy but I can’t. I want to tell you that I’m praying for you, my whole church is praying for you. I wish I could say something happier, but I can’t.”

Then he left. And I was left with awe.

Such wisdom. Cutting through the uncomfortable crap of ‘what to say’ with truth and honesty.

Thank you Ivan. If you see him, please thank him.

MdH

It is Saturday today and I am just finished my ‘roids.  I expect they’ll wear off tomorrow.  We’ll see how the rest of the week goes.  Hopefully this time I won’t catch a cough (which is pretty much gone now–thanks for all the specific prayers for that!) and will feel pretty okay for the duration of the remaining 3 weeks.

On Wednesday, my mom and dad did join me for chemo.  We enjoyed a nice lunch of Mr. Sub sandwiches in the chemo suite and generally made a good time of it.  My dad left after I was finished to go pick up my sister Christy from the airport and my mom and I went downstairs and next door to the Henderson Hospital where my thrombosis (blood clot) specialist is.  We went to see her for a check up.  She said things were going okay, she wanted to keep things the same.  I said to her–I’m going to be on this stuff for longer than 3 months aren’t I….  She said–let me give you the whole picture.  I knew it was longer than 3 months!  🙂  She thinks the blood clot was caused by the tumour on my liver as well as the chemo that I’ve been on, so, she thinks that I’ll be on these needles until this is all sorted out and I’m finished chemo.   BUT, I’m getting used to the poking and the stinging so it is not so bad anymore.  Lots of people have to give themselves injections all the time.  I won’t complain if I only have to do this for 6 months instead of 3 or whatever the case may be.

My blood clot specialist also wanted to get a picture of my heart (ECG) to see the top of my blood clot because the blood clot was coming up into my chest.  She wanted to schedule the ECG for a few weeks from now, but her secretary asked if there was an appointment for that day–and there was!  SO, we went up one floor and 5 minutes later I was having an ECG!  Wonderful!  The technician that did the ECG was very friendly and talkative and as I was looking over her shoulder as it were, I commented that it is just amazing that we can see our heart valves and hear the heart beat and it’s hard not to believe in God when you’re looking at this!  She whole heartedly agreed.  I kept looking at the screen and then said–is that spot there in the left chamber of my heart the top of the blood clot?!  And she said–ummmm, I’m not allowed to say.  Usually people don’t know what they are looking at!  🙂  So, I told her I would stop asking questions, but I think I saw the top of my blood clot!  I didn’t have to go back to see my specialist because they knew about the blood clot and I was already on the needles, so I was okay.

So, another day at the chemo clinic!  Thursday went well too, as my sister Monica joined me and we talked the hours away.  It was nice to just be there and be able to talk with no real interruptions.  It really is an interesting way to bond!  We got our picture taken by somebody sitting beside us.  It will be a memory that is for sure.

I will end with a story about Jacoba.  Zion and Mendelt were at Zion’s soccer game last Monday night already and I was getting Jacoba and Zekijah ready to go to the soccer game too.  The Hoekstra clan was all going to be there for the last hoorray before Monique and Sascha and Matheo left for home again.  Jacoba was a bit sad and crying over something and having a bit of a rough go at it.  I just kept plugging along though and we just needed to get her dressed yet before we could go.  She was still crying as I walked up the stairs with her to get her clothes.  She was still crying as I picked out a dress for her to wear.  She was still crying as I told her this was a dress from Tante Neeke (a wonderful! cousin from Holland–writes on the blog).  She was still crying as we put the dress on, and she was still crying as she said to me–I LOVE this dress from Tante Neeke!  🙂  She finally dried her tears as we walked down the stairs and into the van.  She was all finished crying for the rest of the night and enjoyed her cousins and uncles and aunts and Pake and Beppe and her brother’s soccer game.

Thanks to all for your wonderful comments, hopes, prayers, and encouragements.  It’s so wonderful to read your positive spirits and words of me getting better!  It’s such an encouragement for me and a source of hope (besides our Heavenly Father) to read that you believe that I am going to beat this and that I will survive!  While that is and always has been my general feeling, sometimes I do doubt and the worries creep in and it gets me down.  It is then that the comments and this blog are such a blessing to me!  Thanks for sticking with me on this journey and for not giving up!  It is definitely turning into a marathon of sorts!

Peace and much love,

Marisa

It’s crazy how fast the time went and here we are again doing chemo.  It went fine again.  Thank goodness.  I am getting a little bit weary of this part of the journey and look forward to it being done.  In a way.  I want it to work and therefore wish to carry on with it and so want it to NOT be done.  If it is done too soon, that means it isn’t working and I believe I remember Dr. Tozer, in the very beginning, saying that if Plan A, B or C didn’t work, then he still had some tricks up his sleeve, but I’m not so crazy about seeing what those tricks are.  (Speaking of tricks, about 2 weeks ago, we were filling up the van with gas, and a pretty fair sized pick up truck was in front of us gassing up.  It had a bumper sticker on it which read:  ‘Silly cowboy, trucks are for girls.’  (A play on the words from the cereal commercial for ‘Trix’ where some kids say to the rabbit mascot–“Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.”)  Mendelt and I read it at the same time and he looked at me and just smiled.  He knew that I loved that bumper sticker even before I said–that’s an awesome bumper sticker–I love it!!)

But back to chemo, we had our favourite nurse help us today.  Her name is Chris and she sings while she works and always has a fun story to tell and a smile on her face.  She’s also the one that called me a freak when we told her my first chemo wasn’t working but the A/C type of chemo was.  Anyways, today she told me that I have farmer veins.  We laughed and weren’t sure if that was a good thing, but she proceeded to say that I have big veins that stick out nicely but it can hurt when the needle goes in because my vein bends when the needle goes in and she has to try and catch the vein.  She was not wrong about the hurting part.  (The nurse who helped us 3 weeks ago said I had tough skin.  SO, it is all making sense why I don’t enjoy the needle part of getting the IV set up….)

Chris also said something very interesting.   A farmer who had been a previous patient at the clinic had come to bring some bushels of peaches for the nurses and staff.  That prompted Mendelt to ask what could be done for the nurses to show our appreciation.  Chris said–nothing!  We are just so blessed by you guys.  Selfishly, we see you guys, you’ve hit the preverbial wall, and you are still living life.  It makes all the seemingly crappy stuff in our lives seem very insignificant.  Mendelt said that if that was the case, then us having this makes it seem a little bit better.

There was one sad part of our day.  At the tail end of me getting my drugs, a very young guy came in with his mom.  He got the bed next to me.  It broke mine and Mendelt’s hearts to see such a young guy here!  He couldn’t have been more than 16 or 17.  Seemingly in the prime of his life.  A mystery.

Our kids are doing well.  They see me come home from chemo and see my IV gauzed and bandaged up and they ask me about it.  I explain that it’s kind of a needle that the doctors and nurses put my medicine in.  They want to see it and so I show it to them.

Mendelt talked with Zion last night about me going to chemo again and he asked Zion if he knew what chemo was.  Zion said he didn’t and so Mendelt explained it was the medicine that I got to help me get better from cancer.  He got that.  Then this morning on the way to bringing Zion and Jacoba to Emily’s (whom he really likes but doesn’t love….)  🙂  Zion explained to Jacoba what chemo was.  She said “I knew that”.  To which Zion proclaimed–“You did NOT!” Yep, still brother and sister….  I also showed them my needles that I have to give myself for the blood clot because Zion really wanted to see them.   Really.  (His words) so I showed him (and Jacoba too, because Zion was seeing them and whatever he does she likes to do too….) and they took it all in stride.  Zion also wanted to see me give myself the needle but that is where I drew the line.  (I don’t think Mendelt even watches.  🙂  But he would if I asked him too.  In fact he would give me the needle if I asked him too he’s that great.)

I think that is about it.  Oh, a little bit about our oncologist.  He loves Mendelt’s piano playing (there’s a piano in the cafeteria at the cancer clinic that Mendelt gets to play for a bit and SO many people absolutely LOVE it) and so Mendelt asked him what his favourite song was.  Well, he proceeded to tell us about his favourite type of music in highschool (disco) and then in college (rave) and that his current girlfriend then, who is his wife now–found out he was married–was a DJ back then and that now it’s his dream to go to a rave party.  He said a number of times that he is very a-typical in his music choices and that it surprises so many people that he is an oncologist who likes this type of music.  We find out a little bit more about him every time we see him.  One of the chemo nurses also told us that he previously wanted to be an archaeologist and that today, when he takes vacations he goes to jungles and far away places to see things like lost and forbidden pyramids.  He is a unique individual whom we are VERY thankful for.  We are so nervous sometimes to see him (me especially because I’m afraid he’ll give me bad news…), but we know that he is my biggest advocate and is here to help me.

Okay, now I think that is about it.   Tomorrow I go again and my mom and dad are taking me and then on Thursday my sister Monica and possibly my sister Christy (she is just returning from a trip abroad on Wednesday so she’ll see how she is feeling) are going to go with me.  In a way it’s kind of nice to go to the clinic for 3 days because now more people can come with me if they would like.  Although, if all goes well and I only have this for 4 rounds….. 🙂  But, it could be more too, so I won’t get too excited or hopeful.

Good night all.

Love MaV

The last few days have been quite up and down for Marisa.  Her cough is still making sleep difficult and for those who sleep on a regular basis you know how precious it is.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, Marisa never complains.  She is such a champ.

On Tuesday, round 2 starts.  The days leading up to chemo are usually filled with trembling hope, anticipation, scheduling kids to go different places and prayer.

I never imagined that I would pray “please let Marisa have more chemotherapy”.  That is one strange prayer.  Let’s keep praying it.

Peace,

MdH