Brinley had a fever yesterday and we went to clinic, but she was on the tail end of the virus and we probably could have just stayed home. She is feeling much better today, with just a little cough that I am hoping will be gone by the time she goes in for her LP next Thursday. Thank you for checking in and for your prayers. We truly have a wonderful support system and I am so thankful for offers to help.

I have a new niece I want to see, so the kids need to get all better soon!! Congratulations JD and Stacy!

I'll give a quick update on Brinley first off. We talked to clinic this morning, and since they are convinced it is viral, we don't have to go to the ER with a fever today, which is a very good thing, since it appeared again tonight. She felt pretty good all day (coughing like crazy though), but started to feel sick again before bed, and just woke up coughing and with a fever. They did say if she seems worse, of course, to bring her in. If the fever is there tomorrow, they will want to see her in clinic. The fevers seem to come at night, so I have the feeling if she gets one it will be after hours, bummer for us. That would be another ER visit.

When things get rough around here, my emotions get high. I seem to need to blog more when my emotions run wild so let the blogging begin.

I am sitting here alone, like so many other times, David had to go back into work because of missed hours this week. I will start by telling you that the unknown sometimes creeps it's way into my thoughts and gets the best of me. This is one of those times. You will hear me say so often that Brinley will be in treatment until November, then we are done. Wooohooo! Or are we? Yes, you can give me all the positive comments, encouragement, etc. that you want, but you know as well as I do that we just don't know. Let's be truthful for just a minute here. The cancer can come back. That is a fact. Statistics show about a 20% chance of relapse. 1 in 5. It isn't a pretty thought, but geez, cancer isn't pretty. It's very ugly actually.

Honestly, I believe we will be done in November. But oh my gosh, what if we are not? There is a knot that surfaces in my stomach every time I let myself go there. What if we are not to bid farewell to cancer forever in November? It can come back in a year. In two. Whenever those blasted cells can find a way to mutate, they can come back. I just don't know.

In life, we are so fearful of what we don't know. I am also GRATEFUL for what we don't know. I don't WANT to know if it's going to come back. The only way for me to live life to the fullest is to not know. You see, if I knew for certain it would NOT come back, I would never appreciate my good days, because I would have the knowledge that we would have endless good days, so it wouldn't matter so much. Those good days would not have as much meaning. How do you appreciate a glass of water when you have an endless stream of drinking water at your fingertips? Not knowing makes me thankful for those days that are so good because I don't know how many we will get. If I knew for certain the cancer WOULD come back, my hope would be lost, and losing hope is one of the most awful things to happen to a person. So we live with hope, being GRATEFUL for the unknown, and allow those thoughts to sneak in, but not take over. Some may say to keep those "what if's" out, because they allow fear in. I disagree. Those thoughts allow me to be grateful for the days that we have together, because none of us truly know how many we have. So long as those fears are in check and don't take over my life, I think not knowing is a blessing.

Another reason I am grateful to not know is because it allows me to rely on the Lord, because I know that HE knows, and I trust Him completely. I know that whatever happens, He is in control, and that is comforting. I can willingly accept that. I believe in a God that knows me personally. I believe in a God that comforts and heals. I am realistic, I know this life is supposed to be painful. We grow through our pain, so I don't think for one minute that I will not have pain if only I will do what is right. I believe bad things happen to good people. I know that little innocent children get cancer. Why? One of the questions on my list to ask.....but I believe that good people who suffer will be blessed beyond measure in the next life. I have faith in that. So we trudge through the unknown, and as my Grandma Hanks would say, "pull up our boot straps" and keep moving. And smell the roses on the way.

The founder of HopeKids, which you have probably heard me talk about, sent this message yesterday, right when I needed it.

"The word RACE is from the Greek AGON, from which we get the word agony. Our "race" in life is not a jog, but rather a demanding and grueling, sometimes agonizing race. It takes a massive effort to finish strong.

Likely you've noticed that many people don't finish. There are many on the side of the path. They used to be running. There was a time when they kept the pace. But then discouragement set in. They became tired. They didn't think the race would be this tough.

It is times like this that we need to realize that the race is not ours, but God's to finish. In our weakness, He is made strong. I say, "I am not able." He says, "I am." We don't have the answers. He does.

Listen closely... if we lift our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances, it is much easier to see the path before us!

We can then run with peace and confidence. We can finish strong. "

Rob Cottrell

Brinley was teetering with a fever all day yesterday. I talked to the onc and they said if she had 100.3 for an hour we needed to bring her in for a culture and dose of IV antibiotics again. Well, it would go to 100.8, 15 minutes later it would be 99.5. This happened all day long. Until, of course, clinic was closed, then it decided to stick at 100.7 or so for over an hour. So I had to take her to the ER again. We decided to try a closer ER this time, even though we had sworn to never do that again. I just couldn't go sit at Primary's again for 7 hours. So we tried the new hospital in Riverton. I was really nervous, but it went great. Brinley's fever had disappeared when we got there of course, down to the 99's. But I was glad we went because it was back by the time we left. It only took 3 1/2 hours at this hospital, so we got home around 10:30pm. The nurse was wonderful and although she made me nervous because she does not have much experience with ports, she was able to access her on the first poke and we both breathed a sigh of relief. The took a chest X-ray and checked counts. Her ANC is headed downward, at 1200, so still high enough to come home, but went down quite a bit in one day. That can signify a virus, which we are all convinced this is. The chest x-ray showed mild viral bronchitis, and with her cough sounding so nasty the ER doctor wants me to follow up with clinic this morning to make sure they take a look at the x-ray, but he said in a normal healthy person he would not treat it. Brinley was her silly self, so I am not too worried, although I don't like the sound of her cough. When we got home, she was being a complete goofball, kissing herself in the mirror when I was trying to brush her teeth, driving us crazy with her silliness when we just wanted her in bed! Okay, it was kind of funny. David and I sat down and watched Lost, then tried to find the way to bed through the mess. Well, he stayed up to work and I found the bed.

Who knows what today will bring. I have a toothache and need to go to the dentist, but I guess cancer stuff trumps that, so I'll hold off until I know she is better. I am really hoping for a better day, Brinley has her IV chemo next week and I feel cheated out of our good time of the month. I'm hoping for a good few days before she goes in again.

We got home about 10:00 last night from the ER. Her ANC was 2200, so she got a dose of IV antibiotics, they drew a culture and we got to come home. It took forever, the ER was absolutely packed with sick kids. They redid the whole ER and now how a special "clean" waiting area for kids like Brinley. They are technically supposed to get antibiotics in her within an hour of her getting there I've been told, but it was more like 3. Since I was quite certain it is viral I didn't push it and wasn't too worried about her, since she was playing and happy. Besides, they had their hands full, one of the nurses told me they had to call in every nurse on call.

We got one of our favorite nurses, Chris. He knows what he's doing and always remembers Brinley. He calls her "bug". He hadn't seen her since her hair started growing back, so he kept saying how great she looks.

If the fever returns today we have to go into clinic and get another culture and another dose of antibiotics. At least it won't be the ER. She woke up at 2am with 101 fever and is still sleeping right now. Mylee is sick, so I don't want to ask anyone to babysit her, but I can't bring her to clinic with all those immune suppressed kids, so I'll have to figure something out. It is hard to not have my mom here, something about mom's, we feel like we can ask them to do anything and not feel guilty. Is that wrong? Anyhow, I miss you mom.

I am feeling some frustration, but how can you go through life without it, so I will deal with it. Thanks for checking in and thanks for your prayers. Funny to be asking for prayers for a common cold...that's the crazy cancer life.

Brinley's fever passed the 101 mark, so we are off to the ER and hoping for good counts so we won't be staying.

Today is one of my favorite holiday. Not because I love to get roses or chocolates. Not because I have someone special to share it with, not because of the chocolate or balloons or teddy bears. I love Valentine's Day because I have become aware of an emotion that is the sweetest thing in the whole world. Love. I love love. I love having relationships with people I love. Friends, family, kind-hearted people. I love this emotion and wouldn't even consider trading the heartache that comes with loving someone so intensely that when something happens to them it hurts so bad you don't know how you will survive. I love my family. I was feeling bad today about something. I came home and asked my family for a hug and it felt better. I just wanted to go home and be with people who love me for who I am.

So happy Valentine's Day to all the people I love! We had a great day, waffles w/ strawberries and whip cream for breakfast. Everything pink for dinner. I wrote my traditional Valentine's poem to my family and read it to them. It was a great day.

HOWEVER, Brinley popped a fever before bed and we were given the okay to watch her as long as it doesn't go above 101 or she seems really sick. So we'll be checking her through the night to make sure. I don't know if her c-diff is gone yet, her antibiotics end tomorrow. So we may be BACK at the hospital tomorrow to have her checked out. Hopefully not tonight, neither of us are up for a 6 hour ER trip. Ugh.

:) Hoping for a happy week! Hope you have one too!