Friday, January 6, 2012

Snap back to reality...

2012. Can’t believe it. I have to admit that I welcome this New Year, as 2011 was a little crazy. I am hoping for a little calmer 2012...

We had a great Christmas and New Year’s break. We enjoyed a fun week together, and were able to head to a hockey game with the Bennett’s before making the trek south to see my family. We had a great time with them, as the whole Whitesell gang was together for a few days. The kids ate well, got way more presents than what they needed, and played hard. We were able to ring in the New Year together, something I had been hoping for. After some late nights, great meals, and enough Xbox to last for quite some time, we headed back home on Sunday night. I had to go back to work this week, which is always a little bit of an adjustment after a week and a half off. Caylee headed back to preschool as well, and we were relieved that she seemed to remember most of the stuff she’d learned in the fall semester. Once again, I am very thankful that we were able to spend the holidays together as a family. It meant the world to us to be able to hang out together and enjoy being whole.

As you know, we’ve been waiting this whole time, since before Christmas, to hear the final results from the MRD test. Our doctor has emailed the testing center in Seattle several times to check on the status, but wasn’t making any headway. Finally, today, they tell him they can’t find it. My “daddy” reaction to that… What? Are you kidding me? You LOST it? You don’t LOSE something like that, my friend. You lose your car keys, you lose your wallet, you lose your garage door opener or your glasses. You don’t LOSE my son’s bone marrow sample, the one that he had to put under to get, the one that leaves him with a little scar on his lower back each time it’s taken, the one that we have been waiting patiently (well, almost patiently) to get back for over three weeks now. Sorry, LOSING it is not acceptable.

The good side to that, I guess, is that the doctor is confident that Levi is doing well. All of his tests have come back clear throughout this process and the prelims and “backup” results they got from this last test were negative. When you add to that the fact that we’re going ahead with the fifth round of chemo, he feels good about Levi’s case. So the plan going forward is that we will take Levi back down to Indy next Wednesday to start chemo. He will be down there for two days and two nights to get his infusions then will be able to come home on Friday to stay for a couple of days. We’ll take him back down on Day 8, which will be the following Wednesday, for the remainder of his chemo. He and Steph will spend the two or three weeks following in the hospital much like his previous rounds. The doctor did tell us that this last round is the roughest; he will be receiving very high doses of chemo, increasing the chance of nasty side effects and necessitating eye drops around the clock to prevent potential eye problems.

I’ll be honest, I don’t want to take him back to the hospital. Not for one more round, not for tests, not for anything. I want to keep him home and let him play with his fire truck and play tool set that mommy and daddy got him for Christmas. I want him to race to the door smiling ear-to-ear when I come home from work. I want to hear him singing and chatting to no one in particular over the baby monitor in the morning. I don’t want a nurse to be the first one to greet him in the morning; that’s my job.

Oh yeah, there’s that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach. The one that I was able to ignore for a little while. The feeling that’s one part guilt, two parts anger, and three parts emptiness. So how do you kiss a 21 month old little boy goodbye and tell him that he needs to stay in the hospital with mommy as you leave? How do you pick up your three and half old girl from daycare on your way back and tell her mommy and bubby are back in the hospital? How do you tell your wife to “hang in there” and “be tough” when you know she’s not going to get any sleep in the coming weeks while you’ll be sleeping in your own bed without the piercing beeps of an IV or the growl of a blood pressure cuff to serenade when your eyes close? How do you do these things? The same way you have been; you clench your jaw, bury your emotions, glance prayerfully upward, and put one foot in front of the other. You hold back the tears until you get home, knowing the darkness of your bedroom won’t betray you and will mask all evidence of your breakdown. You secretly wish that cancer was a thing, an entity, a person, something you could beat into submission with your fists and choke the life out of for messing with your little one.

So there you have it, you know what’s racing through my mind and weighing on my heart right now. There’s your dose of vulnerability and honesty on how this stuff feels. We’ll get through this, not on our own, but by the grace of God, the fervent prayers offered for Levi, and the strength garnered from the support and encouragement from all of you. We have believed from the beginning of this battle that we serve a God who moves mountains in our lives, a God that is bigger than the circumstances we find ourselves in, a God that is more powerful than heartache, disease, and death.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” - Ephesians 1:18-21

We love you all,
Michael, Stephanie, Caylee, and little Levi


  1. Adrianne Guillory-LuthiJanuary 7, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    What a beautiful family. More than that, what a faithful, amazing family. When I see things like this, I always wonder why. There are no answers for us here, they will have to come when we meet the Lord. I do think we get glimpses sometimes. I have felt rather cold for a while, not normal for me. I have been a born again christian for a long time. I prayed this very morning for the Lord to straighten me up, and then I came across an old classmates post to read this. It put many things into perspective for me. You will be on my prayer list, and thanks for the raw reminder that if we threw all our heartaches that we think are so important into a pile with everyone else's, we would see theirs and grab all ours back very very quickly. That is what reading your story did for me today. May God Bless you, and your darling little Levi, I pray he flys through this last treatment and he can be done with this and move on with his life with all of you.

  2. Micheal and Stephanie, My prayers for strength and healing are with you! I will pray for you both, Caylee and Levi. Stay strong with each other and in your faith. I deal with this daily as I am a person that sells cancer insurance and the statistics are horrifying! I talk to so many people that have or are going through cancer and it’s treatment process. I just lost my father to cancer and I am a cancer survivor. So my heart reaches to you. This prayer, I will share with many, is for you and your family. God Bless! Tauna Smith-Thiel
    Father, we pray that you touch every cancer patient, heal them or grant them
    sufficient grace to make it through. We pray for all the doctors and nurses taking
    care of these dear ones. We pray for family members that God You will comfort
    them and grant them peace. Exodus 15:26. Lord, you declared that "And said, If
    thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which
    is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his
    statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the
    Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." Father, I am doing my best in
    obeying your commandment by grace, help me to trust you for healing. God remove
    this disease from Levi. Father, You say in Your Word that healing is the Children's bread. I desire this bread for Levi and his family.

  3. Michael,
    We are back on the battle field with you. We were patiently waiting for instructions!!! Onward Soldiers cause We are All Marching with You to VICTORY!!! The Final Round for Levi's Healing that God has given Him!! Your Faithful Praying Warriors! We Love You guys! xoxo Brenda&Gene

  4. Dear Ones,

    Prayers for all of you for everything you need by the grace of God. Your faith is undaunting and God will see you all through this last leg of treatment. Please give each other hugs and kisses from us and know we stand right beside you in prayer and belief.

    Our love always,
    Grandpa and Grandma G.