In His Own Words: Day 1

Each day of Brennen’s Make-A-Wish he journaled about the things he was able to do, see, and feel. Over the next few days I thought it would be great to share the trip through his perspective.

Day 1

The first day we got up from sleeping and got dressed. Then we got our suitcases in the garage. I was so excited to Miami Florida to go on a cruise ship. We were going to travel on a airplane. We got on the plane. When we went down to the ground it hurt my ears bad. When we landed we went to get our suitcases. Then we got to ride in a car to the hotel. Then we went for a walk. The city is pretty. That night I could not sleep I was so excited.

  • We got a limo bus
  • After the flight we met the pilot. His name was Brennen.
  • We got a 3 room suite
  • We ate at Bubba Gump
  • The hotel people bran a cart of food
  • We got a plate of cookies
  • We got superman capes and masks
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A Wish Coming True!

We are blessed by your continued faithfulness in prayer for Brennen. Though we have not had any big updates, it doesn’t mean that your prayers are not important. In fact, it is times like this that diligence in prayer is essential.

Brennen continues his treatments through daily medications at home and monthly visits to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. We are thankful that he has stayed healthy and that there have been no reoccurrences of his leukemia.

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Dr. Razzaqi – One of the best doctors EVER!
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Charge Nurse Joan & Child Life Specialist Joy (she’s the best!)

In the middle of December we made a big road trip to Idaho and California to see family. While we were in Fresno, Brennen and I were able to visit his doctors and nurses at Valley Children’s. We love our new hospital but Valley Children’s will always hold a special place in our hearts as they walked through the diagnosis and intensive parts of Brennen’s treatment. As we were walking in to visit I asked Brennen, “Are you nervous?” He replied, “No. I’m not getting accessed (poked with needle).” 🙂

 

This week is a big week in Brennen’s life.

It’s the week we leave for his Make-A-Wish trip! 

Over a year and a half ago, in another state, we were recommended for a wish by a nurse at Valley Children’s Hospital. Due to the need to get everyone passports, our move to Wisconsin, and AynsLeigh’s birth, his wish was delayed on being granted. Waiting for this day has made it even more of an anticipated day!

We are so grateful for the staff and volunteers at Make-A-Wish Wisconsin who are making Brennen’s wish come true. There is no way that we could be doing this trip if it were not for them and all those that have partnered with them to raise money. (Like Top Hat Logistics in Lake Geneva! Check out my precious post)

Jenny and I were talking the other day that we would gladly give this trip up if it meant not having to walk through cancer in one of our children. Yet, we trust the Lord’s plans and are thankful for the provision of this trip.

Brennen’s wish was to go on a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean. We are all headed out for a 5-night cruise from Miami. Due to an error when Make-A-Wish was making our flights, we have an extra play day in Miami beforehand. 🙂 we will have the opportunity to visit Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

We are thankful for the opportunity to go as an entire family. Even though the other children have not been facing leukemia they have been greatly impacted by our family’s schedule and focus on Brennen. Through the counsel of a friend, who has been through leukemia with his daughter, we have tried to include the other children when going to doctor appointments.

Please pray for safety as we travel. We are enjoying some fresh snow as we pack our shorts and flip flops! Our prayer is that this would be a time of celebrating God’s kindness in keeping Brennen cancer free. We look forward to sharing stories and photos of Brennen’s special trip when we get back!

Tipping Our Hat to TopHAT

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In my last update on Brennen I shared about his wish and how Make-A-Wish of Wisconsin was helping make it become a reality. Recently, we learned that a local company, TopHAT, that takes care of delivery for many stores around the United States, was working with Make-A-Wish to help fundraise. What was even more personal about it was they were fundraising within their company to help underwrite some of the costs of Brennen’s Disney cruise!

When we found out about it we asked if there may be a chance that we could meet some of the people from the company and say, “Thank You” for their generosity. Yesterday, we were able to do just that!

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Everyone was so welcoming to each of us. It felt like they rolled out the red carpet for us with some tasty treats, gift bags for all the kids, and they even arranged a visit from Mickey Mouse (with theme music). We were able to share a bit of Brennen’s story with the TopHAT staff while Brennen and a couple of the boys played some indoor volleyball with Steve and Brian. 🙂 We were so thankful for their support of Brennen. It is humbling to see all that they did in promoting it within their company in the photos on their Facebook page. They actually raised over their goal and the extra will go to help other wish recipients. The photo above is Brennen with two of the owners Brian and Steve along with Courtney, who helped coordinate the fundraiser.

As they days get closer to Brennen’s trip (67 and counting) we continue to thank God for the health that He has given Brennen. Even with the daily chemo and other medicines he takes we don’t ever see him slow down. If he could have his way, he would be outside playing every moment of the day.

Brennen goes on Monday for his monthly treatment in the clinic and it will be one in which they put him to sleep to put chemo in his spine. We appreciate your prayers for Brennen as he does not like the “falling asleep” part.

This Thanksgiving, as with each day, we have so many blessings to thank God for. We pray that this Thanksgiving each one of us can say with the wise King Solomon, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”” Lamentations 3:22-24

Wishes Coming True!

The last few months have brought a bit of normalcy in the rhythm of Brennen’s treatments. He takes his usual medications daily and every 28 days goes in to Children’s for a treatment. We are thankful that he has been very active this summer doing the things 8-year old boys love to do. He and some friends even took a 21-mile hike around Lake Geneva!

Over a year ago Brennen sat down with Make-A-Wish volunteers in San Luis Obispo, CA. When they asked him if he could do anything his answer was, “a Disney cruise to DisneyWorld.” He had seen magazines talking about how you could do a short cruise and then spend a couple days at DisneyWorld. The volunteers said that sounded like a lot of fun but Make-A-Wish let him know that it is a policy between them and Disney that they can’t do the combined trip but could do one or the other. Brennen thought about it and decided to wish for a Disney Cruise!  (keep reading below photos)

Fast-forward a year. I was contacted and asked to make a “little visit” to Make-A-Wish Wisconsin’s offices. Upon our arrival they surprised Brennen with a scavenger hunt around their office. As Brennen and the rest of the kids hunted around their offices for clues, each clue contained a piece of a puzzle that when he put together and found out that they were granting his wish. He is going on a 5-day cruise to the Caribbean at the end of January and the rest of the family gets to go too! We will be stopping in Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited he was to find out about the cruise. From time to time he’s asked me if I’ve heard anything or if I think his wish might be able to be granted. He understood that a wish is something special and we never know if it’s possible to have it happen. To see the amazing staff at Make-A-Wish work so hard to make it happen makes me so grateful and humbled.

As Jenny and I have talked about the cruise we thought how amazing it would be to try to do the part that Make-A-Wish is not able to. We have spoken with Make-A-Wish and they have said we can extend our flights to allow us to go from Miami up to DisneyWorld. We are excited to start saving and fundraising to make this “surprise” part of the trip happen!

Thank you for your continued prayer and support as we trust our gracious God’s plan for our lives!

A Long Overdue Update

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Isabella practicing her camera skills making sure to pose Brennen just right
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“CHEESE!” (Wisconsin cheese that is)

We have been grateful that there hasn’t been much to update you on regarding Brennen’s health and treatment. We thank God for His kindness in providing amazing health and strength as Brennen continues His treatment. As you can see by the photos in this post Brennen is a very active 7-year old. He loves spending time playing ultimate frisbee and other sports with all the boys in our church.

Though there hasn’t been much to report I don’t want my silence to give the feeling we don’t need or appreciate your support and prayers. We believe that God has blessed us through your faithful prayers and our journey is anything but done. Brennen’s body is in a constant state of being compromised due to the chemotherapy and any infection could be a big hit to his body.

Brennen continues his treatment at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee once a month and takes at least one medication each day at home. Since Brennen’s treatment last week was a shorter one Eddie was able to go into the hospital and see what happens. We want our other children to be involved and see the benefits for Brennen and them to be going through things together.

Recently, our local Costco was doing a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Brennen enjoyed telling them thanks when we were shopping there and seeing all the paper balloons on the wall that represented donations.

In just a couple weeks our entire family is doing a 3K walk in downtown Chicago for the Leukemia Research Foundation. The kids have enjoyed “practicing” for the walk around Williams Bay where we live.

Again, thank you for your continued support through your words of encouragement and prayer.

 

A Small Reminder of Reality

IMG_1360Last Monday Brennen had his monthly treatment at Children’s in Milwaukee. It was a short visit because he didn’t do the procedure where they put him to sleep. He only has to do it once every three months now. With his short treatment it allowed us to take AynsLeigh to the zoo for the first time and enjoy the day.

On our way home from Milwaukee I called Children’s to see what his blood labs looked like and asked if we needed to modify his medications at all. The nurse I spoke with said she didn’t have his ANC (number that gives a picture of his immune system’s strength) but said it was okay to keep his medications the same.

Tuesday morning I received a call from our Nurse Practitioner at Children’s and she said that Brennen’s ANC was 153 and we needed to hold chemo. Those words came as a shock to Jenny and I. Any ANC below 500 means his immune system is not able to fight off any infection that he may pick up. A normal person’s ANC is usually between 4,000-6,000. He has not had an ANC that low in well over 6 months! We were instructed to hold chemo and to try to keep him rested for his body to recover.

Hearing his ANC number that low brought back a lot of memories of a year ago. Memories of needing to keep Brennen away from public places and regularly checking his temperature to ensure he didn’t have a fever. Life was consumed with thinking about his health every moment of every day. Over the past few months Brennen’s hair has grown back, he has had a lot of energy, treatment at the hospital is once a month, and it has even felt a bit like “normal,” even if we can’t define what normal means. 🙂 With the drop in his ANC this week it has reminded me that the battle with leukemia is long from over. We still have over 2 more years of treatment and that means over 2 more years of living with the possibilities of hospitalization due to fever/infection.

This morning we went to our local lab for blood work and we praise God that his ANC is back up to 966! We are thankful his counts are back up and it seems, by God’s kindness, that we are out of the woods this time. We will continue to monitor him and the goal of this phase of treatment is to keep his ANC between 500-1500.

This week has been a reminder of how much we continue to need your prayers for Brennen. While he may not be hospitalized or in the beginning stages of treatment our dependence upon the Lord in prayer for healing and strength is continually needed.

As a family we were reading in Psalm 10 this morning and it was speaking of how we can tend to be prideful and say, “There is no God!” (Psalm 10:4) and we can fail to acknowledge Him  when things are going well. We can easily think that our lives are in our control and we don’t need God. Yet, Psalm 54:4 reminds us, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder [sustainer] of my life.” God is the giver of life (1 Timothy 6:13). He  orders our steps (Proverbs 16:9). He has numbered our days (Psalm 139:16). May we in response pray Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Thank you for continuing to pray for Brennen and our family. May God continue to grow our faith in Him as we pray He does in your lives.