Thursday, 16 February 2017

For I know the plans I have for you...

Wow!  It has been a long time since I last posted!  It seems the farther we get away from the cancer diagnosis, the smaller our circle of sharing has become.  I am happy to report that things have been going well for Justin, and for us all. Although I didn't think there was anything note-worthy to write about, I guess to those of you who only get your information from this blog, that could have been slightly worrisome.  My apologies to you. 😔

In the last year, there has been a lot going on around here.  In May of last year, Justin decided to be baptized!  What a joy it was for me to see him take this bold step in his faith!  A proud Mom moment!

Justin also turned 16 last August and about a month ago got his driver's license!  He and Ryan bought a car together; yes, they are sharing!  They have named her Hillary, as she was owned by an older woman and is a very nice pantsuit grey. They crack me up! 😂  So far, the sharing is going well.

Justin is in Grade 11 and is just a couple of weeks into his second semester. He is taking Chemistry, History, LA and Band. Last semester he took Pre-Cal, Physics and Biology and did really well; ending up on the honour roll!  Another proud Mom moment!

Justin continues to have MRIs and chest x-rays every three months (he had them today), and to date these remain clear!  Praise be to God!  Late last year, we did find out through blood work, though, that his kidneys have suffered damage from the chemotherapy.  It is said to be Stage 2 kidney failure, which sounds really bad, but for right now all this means is that he has to drink plenty of fluids to keep his kidneys flushed and he cannot have ibuprofen.   This is in hopes that the damage will not progress further, or at the very least, progress slowly.  He was pretty shaken by this news, as was I. Although it doesn't seem to be an imminent threat, the possibility is there that it will progress.  It took a few days for the news sink in, but I don't think he worries about it too much right now. He is, however, making sure he drinks more water so he is doing his part.  As for me, I trust that God got Justin through the cancer and will get him through this too.  In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, "For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you hope and a future." He has big plans for my boy!

So for now, things are great!  Justin is happy and healthy and exploring different options for his future. Although his mind changes fairly often, there has been talk of him becoming a pediatric oncologist.  It would be a very long road for a guy who has already traveled a long, hard road - but I have no doubt that whatever he decides to do, he will succeed!  As I said before, God has big plans for my boy! 💙

Thursday, 24 December 2015


It has been 18 months since Justin finished treatment and I am thrilled to say that he remains cancer free!  He had his regularly-scheduled quarterly MRI, chest x-ray and blood work earlier this month and all was normal.  Even his kidney and liver function levels have normalized.  What a wonderful Christmas present for us all!

The year has been a wonderful one for us, but for many others we have met along Justin's journey it has been very tough.  In 2015 we lost four young cancer warriors that were very special to us.  So it is  somewhat bittersweet celebrating Christmas this year.  We are blessed to have all of our children with us but for these four families, they have an empty spot in their hearts this year as they go through one of the many 'firsts' without their precious child.  I can't imagine.  My love and prayers go out to all of them.

Justin's next round of tests will be in March.  I am feeling more and more confident that he will be okay.  I can't really explain why.  I just sort of feel like God is telling me, "Don't worry, I got this."

With much to celebrate, I am taking time to reflect on the meaning of this season.  God sent His only son for us so that we may have eternal life.  What better gift could there be!  My prayer for you is that you can do the same.

Have a wondrous Christmas and all the best in 2016!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

More Blessings

I just wanted to give a quick update for those who aren't on Facebook and/or haven't heard yet.  Justin had the ultrasound on his kidneys and bladder last week and the results show that everything looks normal.  Praise God!  So, the plan is to give IV hydration before and after each MRI to flush the contrast from his kidneys.  Hopefully his blood work will then go back to normal levels. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers, concern and encouraging comments.  I really appreciate the incredible support system that I have.

Next MRI is at the end of November, with oncologist visit December 1st.

Until then, no news is good news!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Looking for Peace

Where has the time gone?  I can't believe it's September already!  Summer is over.  Another three months have passed.

Since I last posted, Justin saw the Cancer Care dermatologist regarding the 'moles' on his back.  She is confident that they are not a concern at this time.  She wants to see him again in a year and we are to contact her if we notice any changes in the spots.  Sigh of relief!

Justin had his latest MRI and chest x-ray on August 28th and all results show that his chest remains clear! Great news for sure.  A week later, on Friday, September 4th, he had his blood work done and his regular oncologist visit.  We got the results of his counts (white blood cells, haemoglobin, neutrophils, etc.) during that doctor's visit and they are all good.  We talked with the oncologist about how being 15 months out from the post-treatment date was encouraging...the farther away from that date we get, the better.  We also discussed some of the possible late effects from the chemo and radiation - organ damage, fibrosis of the lungs, other cancers.  He encouraged Justin to be as active as possible.  He would like him to exercise and explained the importance of keeping his lungs healthy and strong due to the amount of radiation he received to his chest and lungs. The blood chemistry results take a little longer so we went on our way rather than wait.  When we arrived home later that day, however, there was a message on the answering machine from the oncologist. I called him back and learned that Justin's urea and creatinine levels are a little high.  He noted that they have been on a bit of an upward trend the last few times.  These are indicators for kidney function.  Of course, my mind goes immediately to previous warnings that several chemo drugs can cause organ damage later on.  His oncologist put in a request for an ultrasound on Justin's kidneys to rule out any problems.  He is hopeful that this is nothing serious and could possibly be the result of the contrast medium used during Justin's MRIs.  It requires a lot of fluids afterward to be sure to flush it out of the kidneys and perhaps Justin isn't drinking enough after the scans.  The plan is to do the ultrasound and if it proves to be normal, he will order IV fluids before and after each MRI to be sure the contrast is sufficiently flushed from Justin's kidneys. 

So now we wait for the ultrasound appointment.  I feel like I have boarded the roller coaster once again.  Things are going along so smoothly, then bam! One more bump in the road.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I remember reading a quote during Justin's treatment that read something to this effect:  A childhood cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, it is a life sentence.  And it is. Justin was fortunate enough to defeat Ewing Sarcoma with the help of the many toxic chemicals that were pumped into his body.  We knew the risks that these drugs held but what choice did we have? You choose the lesser of two evils and hope and pray that: a) it works, and b) that it won't cause major problems later on.  

All of this comes at the same time as my return to work. After two years off, I went back to my job as an EA yesterday.  I was, admittedly, a little anxious about going back.  There is still uncertainty with regard to Justin's health and future, as we have just learned with this latest concern.  I am already starting to feel uneasy about what this may mean, both personally and professionally. I don't want to have to miss a lot of work but at the same time, this whole experience has taught me that health and family are the most important things and I am a Mom first and foremost.  

Please continue to pray for Justin's health and well-being, and also for my well-being.  This Mom could use a little peace right about now.

Friday, 5 June 2015

One Year Post Treatment!

Time flies and another three months have gone by.  Justin had his scheduled MRI and chest x-ray on May 26th.  We got the preliminary results (which means the oncologist looks at the scan, but hasn't got the official report from the radiologist yet) that evening and everything seemed to look good.  Such a relief!  So to say I was a little unnerved when two days later the oncologist called back is an understatement. 

The phone rang in the early evening on May 28th.  I looked at the call display (as I do every time the phone rings), saw the familiar phone number and my heart leapt into my throat.  I answered tentatively.  Hel-lo?????  It was Justin's oncologist.  He asked if I had received a call from radiology, which I had not.  He then told me that they would likely need to repeat Justin's MRI.  He went on to say something about...nothing to worry about...the area where Justin's tumour had been didn't show up well on the initial MRI...something about artifacts and the movement of his heart...Honestly, I wasn't really processing what he was saying.  I just sat there with the phone to my ear listening but not really registering the information.  The emotion and shock of this bump in our smooth road overtook me and it was just one of those 'nod and say uh-huh' moments.  At the end of his "doctor language" explanation of what the problem was, he did say, "I don't think there is anything to worry about.  Everything else looks good, it's just that the area around where the tumour had been is blurry and they need to get a more defined image to be sure he is clear."  He told me that I should expect a call from the radiology department to schedule another MRI. I hung up the phone and immediately called Trevor.  I tried to relate to him what I had heard or thought I heard.  The only thing I knew for sure was that he said it was likely nothing to worry about.  Trevor decided to call the oncologist himself because I was unable to give him a clear enough explanation.  He was then able to get a first-hand description that seemed to make sense to him.

The next day I got a call from Radiology and his MRI was scheduled for Monday, June 1st.  Even with the reassurance from the oncologist that it is likely nothing to worry about, naturally doubt and worry wriggled their way in.  It was the area around the tumour site that they could not see clearly, so in my mind they couldn't be sure that there was nothing to worry about.  The MRI was performed and this morning at Justin's routine Cancer Care appointment we found out that the radiologist's report showed that he is indeed clear! Hallelujah!!!  His blood work is also normal, so that is more good news.  Upon physical examination, however, the oncologist was looking at Justin's back and called me over to take a look.  There were a lot of moles all over Justin's back.  He asked me, "These weren't here before were they?"  I said that they weren't. we have to keep an eye on these.  We need to watch for changes in size or colour and report to him if we see any changes.  They may be nothing, but with all of the radiation that Justin received to his back and chest...I can't let my mind go there.  We will keep watch over them and pray that they remain just moles.

We are now officially one year post-treatment and Justin is feeling great!  He is gearing up for his final exams and looking forward to summer.  Hopefully summer is uneventful and you will not hear from me until September after he has his next scans.  Please continue to keep Justin in your prayers.

Until then.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Life is Good!

Another three months has gone by and Justin had his latest MRI and chest x-ray.  I am beyond thrilled to report that the preliminary reports show that he is clear!  A huge sigh of relief and praise to God this week, that's for sure!

Since I last posted, we celebrated Christmas and surprised the boys (and Brennan's girlfriend) with their present - a trip to Jamaica!   Trevor and I have made it an annual tradition to get away from the winter cold every year, just the two of us, but with all that has gone on over the past couple of years we decided that it was time we take the kids with us.  We took the trip from February 7-14th.  What a wonderful time we had!  We stayed at Beaches resort in Ocho Rios and spent the week soaking up the sun and heat, visited Margaritaville, did some shopping and showed the boys Dunn's River Falls. Trev and I had done the falls twice before, but what a blast climbing it with the kids! Trevor and the boys also went scuba diving for the first time and Trevor and Brennan even certified.  Many incredible memories to cherish from that week.  We are already looking at possibly doing it again next year with the twins - or maybe it will just be the two of us again...we will have to wait and see!

Justin is looking great and doing so well.  My heart soars when I see how he is thriving.  He and Ryan are both cast members in their high school musical 'Hairspray' and so are busy with rehearsals. Justin is still enjoying his acting class at Manitiba Theatre for Young People, which will be wrapping up in the next few weeks.  He is also doing very well in school, with he and Ryan both getting 80s and 90s on all of their exams this past January!

We are so thankful for all of the love and support we have received and continue to receive.  We know that there are hundreds of you following Justin's Journey and we feel your prayers for Justin's continued good health.

See you in three months!
Until then,

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Merry Christmas To All, And To All a Good Night

It is hard to believe that it is December already and that Justin is now 6 months post-treatment.  He had his MRI and chest x-ray last week and we are so thankful and thrilled to announce that they are once again clear!  He remains cancer-free.

Cancer-free.  As I sit here and try to wrap my head around the fact that I am saying these words about my son is one thing.  To TRULY believe it is another. 

With every MRI, the doubts and worries creep in.  Actually, it's not the scan that's the problem; it's waiting for results.  When Justin had his first 3-month post-treatment scan, his oncologist called us the very same night with the results.  This time, that first night passed without a call.  And the next day and night passed without a call.  Every passing day without results turns me into a nervous wreck.  My mind imagines various scenarios as to why he's not calling:  Maybe he's away and hasn't seen the MRI yet.  He must have looked at it and saw something suspect and is waiting for the radiologist's report before calling.  It gets so that I don't even want to call him because I'm afraid of what I might hear.  Trevor convinced me to call on day 3.  I left a message and then waited with bated breath for the call; not wanting to leave the house for fear I might miss it.  There is no way to truly understand what torment the wait is, unless you have been the parent of a child with cancer or have had it yourself, I suppose.  I virtually put life on hold as I wait to hear the potentially devastating news.  I don't want to plan anything too far in advance because in my mind I get thrown back to that time when we first found out Justin had cancer.  It is a day-to-day existence.  So I hold my breath until I hear those glorious words:  "Everything looks good."  And I did hear those words later that day, when the oncologist called back.  And then I breathe.  And I cry.  Partly due to relief and partly because I feel so foolish having ever doubted in the first place. 

Justin said today in the oncologist's office that he prefers not to hear results right away.  His anxiety is that the sooner the call, the worse the results must be.  He never really shared any of his fears during his treatment and it is only in recent months that they have come out, little by little.  As his mother, it tore my heart out to hear him tell of how terrified he was before his surgery; thinking there was no way he was going to survive it.  I think back to how brave and seemingly unfazed he was by it; pushing me away, telling me, "Mom, I'm fine!" as I hugged him tightly when they came to take him in.  I asked him why he never told me how afraid he was and his reply was, "I knew you were worried already and I didn't want to make it worse for you".  So mature.  So selfless.  My hero.

Tis the Christmas season and I am feeling especially blessed this year. We have much to celebrate.  Justin is in good health and we will be spending time with family.  What could be better!

I wish all of you the gift of God's love and blessings this Christmas.  May 2015 be a year of good health and miracles for all!

Until the next scan,