Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last Post of the Day!

It has been 16 hours since we arrived this morning.  We are so glad we have had each other for this long wait!!  We are weary, but anxious to see Kristi, and at the same time,  dreading to see her in this new condition.  They finished Kristi's surgery at 8:30 tonight.  The plastic surgeon and Dr. Levenback were very tired as well when they came to talk to us.  They both feel the reconstruction went well and are pleased overall with the surgery.  They are working to wake her and remove some of the tubes before taking her to her room for the night. They have to get her up and moving around as soon as possible after being under anesthetic for so long.  We hope to see her in 1-2 hours before going home to get some sleep for tonight.  Tomorrow begins a new journey and hard battle of healing.  They said that the next 4 days are important in how her body responds to the changes and reconstructive process.  Pray for her as she awakens.  For God's grace to enable her to accept all of these changes.  She is so brave and we are so proud of her!  

4th Update

We just received the next update.  They expect it to another 1-2 hours before it is complete.  Dr. Levenback  and Dr. Jhingran (Radiation Oncologist) have completed their part.   Dr. Levenback communicated that this surgery was certainly necessary for life.   Dr. Jhingran chose not to do the internal radiation because of the location and concern about permanent damage to the two primary nerves that go down her legs.  He reported that they were able to see and remove the cancer with clear margins.  Final pathology reports will not be available for 1-2 weeks.  He was very positive about what they have done, and at the same time, very serious about the hard road of recovery ahead.  The greatest concern will be the danger of infection which is very common with this surgery.  Please begin praying specifically about this.  Also pray for her pain management and for her as she recovers from being under anesthetics for 10-12 hours.

"Waiting is the Hardest Work of Hope" Lewis Smedes

Here is some of what has been happening as we wait!   Kristi, this is for you!  

 Worley found a peaceful place outside to maybe work on Sunday's Sermon. 
He said it was too hard to concentrate, but we enjoyed getting some fresh air and sunshine.  We made new friends.  Go meet Julie and her family! 

 Enjoyed a visit from friends and cancer survivor (Traci) from Arkansas.... The Davis'
 Lots of Praying for the Dr.'s and Kristi
 We decided to give blood.  Dad and I passed the interview and qualified, but Amy's iron was too low so she took pictures.
 I thought....I'm doing great!  This is a good thing to do while Kristi is in surgery and needing blood! 
 Then...I was just talking and about to get up and I told Amy, "You better get me something to 
drink or go get the nurse because I'm about to faint!"  They quickly put ice packs on me and I survived! I may not give this much blood again anytime soon!   Dad did much better and said, "I usually feel better when I give blood"!  He was bragging! 
 A surprise visit from Rev. RJ Heijmen from St. Martin's Episcopal Church.  
He was so kind and came to pray with and for us.   A woman
from Billy and Kristi's church in Arkansas knew him and contacted him on facebook about Kristi. 

Lots of phone action to update people! 

Houston Mailing Address

Here is the address if you want to send cards or words of encouragement to Kristi or others.   There were few available apartments for us to rent this time, but we were finally able to get a two bedroom at this place with a shuttle back and forth to MD Anderson.  God was faithful to provide for this need.

Kristina Wright
Amalfi at Hermann Park
3 Hermann Museum Circle, Apt #1211
Box 120
Houston, TX  770o4

3rd Update

The second phase of the surgery is complete.  We are now moving forward with Dr. David Addlman.  He is the plastic surgeon doing the reconstructive surgery and Dr. Coleman who is putting in the stomas for the ostomy bags.  Pray for these Dr.'s and this part of the process.  We are really tired, but experiencing God's presence and grace and peace.  Thanks for holding us up in prayer today!

2nd Update

They are about to complete the process of removing the organs affected.  They said her vitals are still good.   These Dr.'s work together on this portion of the surgery so they do not get fatigued.

First Update!!

We have just received the first update from the Orthopaedic Surgeon.  (Dr. Valerae Lewis...a specialist for muscles, tissues and skeletal) She reported that her part went well.  She is pleased that she did not have to remove as much pelvic wall muscle as expected.  They were able to protect the sciatic nerve and felt adding her to the team helped in the overall process.  They have now started removing the next organs. Pray now for Dr. Levenback and Dr. Coleman (Gyn Oncologists) and Dr. Jhingran (Radiation Oncologist).  She is there to offer internal radiation if needed.

January 31st, 2013: Alyssa's Birthday and Her Mom's Surgery

First.... Make sure you read the next post to hear from Kristi late last night.

Here we are again!  Walking down this long hall and saying goodbye.  Entrusting Kristi to our Heavenly Father and the knowledge and skills of the numerous Dr.'s and surgeons who are one by one coming into her pre-op surgery room to sign their name by their incision markings.  They have said it will probably be 9:00 before they are actually getting started on the surgery following all the set-up procedures.  We should expect 10-12 hours of anxiously waiting!  We all joked last night that we would like to ask the Dr.'s if we could just be put under too until the surgery is over!!

Yesterday was rough because the Dr.'s were initially not unified on her treatment over the past three days,  but at 6:00 last night they agreed that they must move forward adding the Orthopaedic Surgeon.  They all are deeply concerned the cancer is in the pelvic wall even though the scans are unable to show it.  In order to feel they have a clear margin, the orthopaedic surgeon (Dr Valerae Lewis) will work to carefully remove the muscle and tissue off and around the pelvic bone without affecting the main nerve that goes to her legs. They will do this portion of the surgery first, followed by the other Dr.'s removing the other organs.  This part of the surgery also complicates the plastic surgeon's reconstruction portion of the surgery.  Please specifically be in prayer about this because it will be the first time this group at MD Anderson have performed this along with the full pelvic exenteration surgery.  On one hand, this is a praise, because in June we were told that it would be incurable if it was in the pelvic wall.

We prayed together over Kristi last night and felt the heaviness of the situation, but also had light humorous moments as Amy was offering to donate her inner thigh muscle on her one leg that is bigger than the other, and Worley was offering his extra belly muscle and tissues !  : )   Billy was also telling Worley he might need to pretend to be Kristi's husband after the surgery because the thought of seeing Kristi with all of the tubes and post-surgery state makes him feel like he might faint!!

Today's Jesus Calling Devotional was perfect for us and ended with Genesis 28:15  I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I WILL BRING YOU BACK TO THIS LAND.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."  Gen 28:15  When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  Psalm 56:3-4.   We held onto these truths as we said goodbye.

We feel the strength and courage from your prayers and Billy and Kristi feel overwhelmed and humbled  by so many of you who have reminded them that God sees them through your financial provisions, scheduled prayer meetings, food, gifts, and care for Isaiah and Alyssa, and the rest of us.

Dad said, "On this day 7 years ago, Kristi gave new life to Alyssa, and today we are expecting God
to sustain and give new life to my daughter." 

 All wearing our Purple! 
She entered the hospital wearing her monogrammed shirt saying 
"I'm a Stubborn Woman and My God is Big"!  This was the first thing she said to her Dr. when he told her she had cancer and we had Margo monogram this for her. 
We were told not to expect any word for probably 3 hours.   But will update here as soon as we know.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Surgery Time

Hi friends, family and even strangers. It's Kristi and I wanted to personally write a few thoughts as I face surgery today. It is 1:10 AM and I have had so many things I wanted to blog about before this surgery. At this point I can't afford fancy words and deep thoughts.  I have to be at the hospital in about 4 hours to check-in. 

This moment has come to me as such a shock.  I completely believe that God gifted me a miracle last June as I awoke and learned that this same exenteration surgery had been aborted. I can't deny that I have been angry, burdened, numb, hopeful, and so much more.  Regardless of my emotional roller coaster dealing with this news...we are here.  I have to look at the facts and what I know in this very moment. 

I know that Satan is attacking.  My burdened heart feels his arrows.  I speak out loud casting Satan out of my mind and my heart in the name of Jesus Christ.  The same is spoken to rid myself of cancer and abnormal cells.  I believe there is power in the name of our Lord. 

Speaking of Jesus, He held my hand walking down that hall in June...and he will again today.  It feels bigger and more scary because I know what waits on the other end of that hall and behind the surgical doors.  I remember the tables of tools and the number of people in the surgical room from last June.  I feel like this time I am the ram to be sacrificed, whereas last time I felt surrendered to carry the cross of suffering for God's kingdom.  I may be rambling, or just throwing out various thoughts, but in the midst of it all I want you to know that I believe God has proven himself faithful to me over and over again; big and small. 

Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is they faithfulness, Lord unto thee.

Today is my daughter's birthday and I want nothing more than to share this day with her, but God has bigger plans.  His plans.  I will walk faithfully until he moves this mountain and I will trust Him to meet my daughters needs today as well.  

He who began His good work in me, will be faithful to complete it.  Philippians 1:6

I will write to you all again on the other side of this day.  Until then, I want to say thank you to everyone for your prayers, encouragement, gifts and support.  We are humbled by the amount of love and encouragement we feel from such a varying group of people.  God has already shown himself faithful this week in many ways. We truly would not be surviving all of this without your help.

See you soon.....


Pre-op completed.

Another long day is about to come to a close here at MD Anderson. These days are exhausting and a roller coaster ride of emotions as you travel from one appt to the next. The PET scan that was done on Monday showed cancer only in the same region as it has always been and is still very tiny in size. The radiologist, dr Jingren,  feels confident the cancer has not spread else where and even suggested to the oncologist, dr Levenbak, to not do the specialized CT scan today to determine if it's in the pelvic wall. However they did go ahead and do the scan this afternoon and at this point we do not have those results. As mentioned earlier they are bringing in an orthopedic surgeon into the mix of doctors in case it is in the pelvic wall. This has created much debate about where and how to do the incision.

Current prayer requests are:
1. That these doctors would all be in unity about their decisions and what the best treatment plan is for Kristi. There has been lots of opinions today by each of the doctors.
2. That we know with confidence that there is no cancer in the pelvic wall. If there is this adds many other steps to the surgery procedure such as taking muscle from her inner thighs.
3. For Kristi tonight as she has to drink her gallon of torture to prepare her for surgery, she is dreading having to do this again.

We will begin tomorrow at 5:30, and will keep you updated as we know more.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Arrived in Houston

Kristi and  Dad (George) arrived in Houston last night and started the day with God showing up at her first appointment.  The woman doing her EKG told her that God had healed her from a serious back problem.  She had been bedridden for months.  She then proceeded to share her story and communicated that during those months she saturated her mind with God's word, confessed sins, prayed and forgave others.  She then went on to make sure that Kristi was a believer and knew Jesus as her Savior.  When Kristi said she was, she told her to believe and keep claiming the Word of God over her body and to tell God that her body belonged to Him.   Why should we be surprised that God would make himself known to Kristi as she anxiously arrived at the first pre-op appointment of a very long day?  He is so personal and never leaves us!!    Kristi will end her day this evening with scans.  She has solid appointments the next three days with surgery scheduled for Thursday.   Amy will update this blog tonight or tomorrow with new information.

Please continue to pray for Isaiah and Alyssa.  The parting between them and Kristi yesterday morning was rough.  They are very fearful and tearful.  Kristi's greatest concern is for them.  In fact, they, along with Billy,  are the reason she is willing to move forward through this life altering surgery.  Billy will travel to Houston on Wednesday.  Pray for Billy and the kids on that day as they separate from each other.  We are so grateful for Leona, Billy's Mom, as she has stepped in to care for the kids, along with some help from Katy, Josh, and Kristi and Billy's friends.  Their community group and pastor's involvement and prayers have served as encouragement as well.

Thank you to many of you who have helped each of our family members with travel and expenses.  You have been used by God to provide for us and them, and we have needed it with missing work and travel and housing expenses.   I personally have gained a whole new understanding of life with a chronic illness or cancer.  For those still wondering how you can personally help the Wrights with their home or medical expenses, a sweet friend and prayer warrior of Kristi's set up a link for her blog.  It is on the right side, under the pictures.  It says Go Fund Me.  The money will go directly to Billy and Kristi's bank account.  It has been researched and is a secure site to give money on.

Looking forward to seeing how God continues to show Himself this week!   Danina

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Story Continues...2013

“Through Christ, it can be well with your soul even when it is not well with your circumstance.” 
_Jennifer Rothschild

I don’t want to write on this cancer blog again! I don’t want to wear purple again.  I don’t want to return to MD Anderson again.  I don’t want to watch my sister suffer again. I don’t want to feel the pain in my heart as I look at Billy and their children again.   I don’t want to think about the loss and possibility of death that comes with the word cancer again.   None of us do!  But I will.  We all will because God has asked us to enter this battle and suffering again, and I know He is sufficient for all He is asking of us.

The Nay Family is from a small mountain town in the White River Valley of Colorado called Meeker.  My family (the Kennedy’s) just made the drive from Denver to Meeker over Christmas break.  This four hour drive includes many steep climbs, breathtaking views from the top of the mountains, careful descents down the icy and snow covered roads, and many straight paths.  There are several tunnels where you are completely protected from the elements outside, a beautiful and yet dark canyon, and the wide open spaces of many valleys.

This is a picture of what life has been like for the Wright family and their extended family and friends since this blog began in November of 2010.   Those of us walking with Kristi through her cancer have been on quite the journey.  We have experienced the hard climbs, some fearful descents, and the straight paths where we could take a breath.  There have been comforting moments of being in the tunnel of God’s grace and feeling His supernatural protection, presence and peace, and there was the glorious view at the top of the mountain with Kristi’s miracle in June of 2012.  Right now, it feels like the canyon part of our drive.  Full of beauty, but also an acute awareness of the claustrophobic rock walls, a river with fast rapids, and the darkness that covers the beauty of the canyon at night. 

On January 28th,  Kristi will return to MD Anderson for scans and pre-op appointments, and she will again face the full pelvic exoneration surgery on Thursday, January 31st.  

This is lengthy, but allow me to catch you up on the past three months-----
At Kristi’s check-up the end of October, they found that small fragments of cancer had returned.  This was followed by once again having the elders of their church pray over her and then returning to MD Anderson for a biopsy in December.   This biopsy left the Dr.’s with great confusion and concern.  Even though these fragments are tiny, they are a fast growing type of cancer and it is dangerously close to the pelvic wall and nerve which would complicate any treatment.  However, since June, they have invited an Orthopaedic Surgeon to join them on Kristi’s case who may be able to help if it is in the pelvic wall.  This was not an option before. Furthermore, Kristi has had a call from another woman who survived the surgery and the recovery in the past two weeks.  She had tried to locate someone to talk to before and never could.   The Dr.'s are concerned because they have been unable to locate the source for these fragments and are equally concerned that her cancer has now returned three times.  It was over Christmas that we received the news that MD Anderson was scheduling Kristi for the same surgery that God rescued her from in June.

Many questions arise with this fact.  Primarily, why would God choose to provide a miraculous healing in June that touched so many lives, only to allow the cancer to return six months later?  Why is the cancer back in the very month she was to share her story at church and was offering leadership to a new cancer ministry?  What about those who did not believe in God, and now do because of the answered prayers in June?  Will they turn away and doubt God again?

I would not begin to speak for God!  Instead, I am reminded of the book of Habakkuk where he is asking God lots of questions and then gets to chapter 3 and says,
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no fruit, though there are no sheep in the pasture and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord
and be joyful in God my Savior. “   
This is the desire of our family as God continues to write this story!

Over Christmas, I kept thinking about the story of Job in God’s word as I watched Billy and Kristi deal with the return of cancer and the financial stress of past cancer bills.  Kristi will not be able to work which will require they sell their house, but there is no time to accomplish this before surgery. This would have been enough, but then their dryer quit, their microwave quit and their heater quit working.  Then, to make matters worse, Kristi got sick and was not able to physically feel well as she worked hard to make the most of this Christmas with Billy, Isaiah, Alyssa and her extended family.  Enough is Enough God!!!  

Job got to this point too when he said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him “   Job 13:15.
Amidst their heartache and concerns, this remains true of Billy and Kristi.

I recently heard a message by Chuck Swindoll on Romans 8:18-28 in a study at our church.    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (vs 18 & 28).  Swindoll said,
 “There is a glory that will surpass the groaning.  Suffering is a vital part of the path to glory in the Christian life.  Stop the fight!!   Stop the resistance and let your suffering be.  Allow God to turn your groaning into glorying in the days you have left”
This is our desire and prayer.   For us and for you! 
Our family is no one special and while our story is unique to us, there are many who suffer in these same or greater ways.  And yet you, our dear friends and family, have been willing to join us in this story God is writing.  You have been used by God to help strengthen us, provide for us,  and at times carry us on this journey through your prayers, caring words and notes, financial help, flight miles, and many acts of love and service.   We treasure you and humbly ask you to join us again.

We specifically ask you to pray that Billy will be able to keep his job and their medical insurance in the year ahead while trying to also care for Kristi and the kids.   Kristi’s recovery from this surgery will be a full year and will require consistent help for the first 6 months.   Pray that they can stay in their house through this school year to help Isaiah and Alyssa keep some normality.  Isaiah and Alyssa took the news hard.  Please pray for them.  Pray also for the rest of the family as we work to keep everything covered in our own homes, as well as, in Arkansas and Houston.   Also, Pray for Billy and Kristi to be able to complete the many things they need to get done and in order prior to January 27th.   They also want to enjoy some focused family time with their children.  Pray for the numerous Dr.’s and staff that will be involved in this surgery and in the decision-making process.  Continue to ask God for healing and above all for Him to be glorified.    Thank you!!

Surrendering Kristi to the next chapter in God’s Story,

Danina (for Kristi and the Wright and Nay Families)

The Wrights and the Nay Family Christmas