A Year Ago Today – April 7, 2006

A year ago today my life changed forever. My wife, Lis, was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. I can still clearly replay that day in my mind. I remember the phone call from Lis telling me that we need to head to the hospital, I remember feeling in shock then remember feeling confused as we waited on the seventh floor wondering how long we would be there. I remember the drive every day after work, with the sun shining in my eye and I remember that long walk back to the car every night. Turns out Lis would be there for 30 days and we’d end up forming a relationship with the nurses of floor seven.

Those 30 days and the months that would follow changed my life forever. I went from someone that would worry or get upset at the littlest things to not worrying about those things at all. Money didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t get stressed over work or bills. The only thing that mattered was my immediate family. Making sure I was there for Lis and helping her beat this cancer so that we can watch our son grow up – together.

Since that Thursday in April I’ve experienced more personal change than I had in my previous 27 years. When you get smacked across your face and the world you knew stops on a dime you’ll experience quite a bit of change and you’ll learn a lot about you, your family and your friends.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned in the last year:

About Me

I’ve learned patience and how to deal with the small stuff in life. I used to complain a lot about working two jobs and not having enough time with my family. Heck, I’d stress over smaller things. Lis being diagnosed with leukemia really opened my eyes. I realized life is fragile. We’re lucky enough to have a second chance, some people don’t even get that. I started living my life day-to-day. If I start to get stressed or complain about things (like work) I think back to that day in April and tell myself just to go one day at a time.

About Lis

She’s stronger than I thought she was. Twelve hours in labor and the nurses still didn’t believe she was having contractions. I thought that showed how tough she was, but this past year she proved to that she was tougher than that. Going through chemotherapy is not a piece of cake. Going through chemotherapy without complaining is even harder. A lot of people told her that losing her hair would be tough. But I remember the day Randy and I walked into the hospital room and Lis looked at us and said, “I want it shaved now!” She didn’t care and it didn’t phase her the entire time she had to wear a bandana. She was stronger than I would’ve ever been and I’m darn proud of her for what she’s been through. Love you Lisy Elisangela! Hehe!

About Lukas

Lucky for him this all happened when he was a baby and he won’t have any recollection of seeing his mom go through what she went through. He will though have this journal and millions upon millions of photos (mostly of him) for him to look at. He’s been the happiest little boy and he’s been everything I could ask for…first word: ball, loves to play with his lightsaber, loves to play basketball, and loves to say the sweet word of “daddy”. I’ll touch more on this joy in another entry.

About Me and Lis

We were married in May 2003. We found out Lis was pregnant in Feb 2004. We had Lukas in Oct 2004. Lis was diagnosed in April 2005. That’s a lot for a young married couple to go through in two years but we did it and without complaints. These things can make or break a relationship and we definitely made it. If we can come out of this stronger than we were before then we can beat any petty thing that may come after this.

About Me and Lukas

Before Lis was diagnosed I was just the male-figure in Lukas’ life. I worked quite a bit so didn’t play a big part in taking care of him. Plus Lis was breast-feeding and well, there isn’t much for me to do with that. Of course, finding out that Lis was going to be staying in the hospital put the pressure on me. I told him that I needed him to “step up”. Of course, he’s five months old and doesn’t know what the heck I was talking about. He had yet to sleep through the night, but the first night we were together he slept the entire night. We became close and through those first 30 days he kept me sane, rolling around on the floor while typed in my journal and making me laugh every time we left the hospital at night and I put him in the car. He also comforted me at night and I have to admit there were many nights I took him from his crib and had him lay with me, just to keep me company.

About Our Family

My mom was there every day to take care of Lis and Lukas. My brothers and dad visited often and helped out a lot with fundraising. My grandparent’s helped out greatly with fundraising also. Lis’ mom and two of her three sisters flew up here to help with the house, Lis and Lukas. The family is strong and it showed during the tough times we endured.

About My Friends

When times are tough your true friends will shine through the rest. My friendship with Josh has grown a lot this past year as I realized what a good friend he is. He visited us at the hospital quite a bit and even stopped by to give Lis some lemonade when I wasn’t there. He also helped out every time we had a fundraiser. Our friends Cory and Hillary were also very supportive, stopping by the hospital often and helping us with fundraising and praying for us a lot. Tony organized two car washes that benefited us dearly!

About My Faith

We went back to church for the first time in years the first week of April 2005. Four days later we got the news Lis had cancer. Somehow I think God had a hand in telling us to make that appointment we had been ignoring for weeks. My faith was tested dearly last year but with the help of many prayers from friends, family, strangers and church members Lis achieved remission. I’m now a strong believer in the power of prayer and believe that God listens to the many prayers of his children. Our church and the church of our friends Wendell and Marta were amazing, preparing dinner for me and my family.

About Cancer

White cells, red cells, platelets, leukemia, chemotherapy, remission…these are just a few of the words that have become part of my regular vocabulary. I also became full aware of how horrible cancer is and how many people are affected by it. It’s insane! Being a part of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life really opened up my eyes. There are too many of us out there that are dealing with or have dealt with this first hand.

Making Good out of Bad

A lot of good has come from this bed. Not only are our relationships with the family and friends stronger but we’ve also gotten more involved with church and form a team for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Lis’ family got the opportunity to come up fromBraziland Warm 106.9 granted our Christmas Wish and allowed us to take a much needed vacation, plus got Lis a bike which she loves to ride and gives us the opportunity to bike together.

I’ve also been able to meet strangers, through this space, from all over the world. Even building friendships through this journal.

I started writing the journal as a way to get things off my chest at night. I’d come home, put Lukas to bed and get on the computer and start typing. The words flew out of my mind and onto the screen. A few weeks later I read about blogs and decided to share my story with our family, friends and any other strangers that may come across this on the Internet. MSN recognized my Space in May 2005 and later produced a brochure promoting Spaces featuring 10 Spaces (including mine). The journal has allowed me to share my writing.

I have also written more for the newspaper I work for, covering high school football, volleyball and basketball. I’ve always loved writing about sports and to do it and get paid (though it’s not a lot of money) has been a lot of fun. I hope to continue writing and maybe even get paid for it!

I think I’ve touched on everything. If I’ve forgotten anything then let me know.

About Now

Things continue to get better for Lis. Yesterday we had another follow-up appointment and the results were perfect. Red and white counts are normal. Platelets still just a tad low but nothing to worry about (told you they were part of my vocabulary). Lis let out a big sigh of relief. She had been worried about her counts because she’s been battling allergies and thought she felt lumps in her neck, now she’s happy and she’s ready to go to Brazil and to celebrate! I think we’ll go out to dinner tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “A Year Ago Today – April 7, 2006

  1. I can\’t believe it\’s been a year already..Praise God Lis is better now. What an amazing learning experience you guys have had. Maybe all the bad things are forever behind you. I would just like to say that I have loved getting to know you and your family through this journal.
    Have a blessed weekend!


  2. Awww…thanks, Kev!  Hillary & I miss you guys a lot.  We miss just hanging out or doing the Cancer Walk.  It\’s funny but I can still remember when I found out Lis had cancer – from a lengthy email from you right after you found out.  It totally took me by surprise.  I immediately called Hillary and I couldn\’t help but cry because we love Lis and I knew *exactly* how you were feeling at that moment.
    What doesn\’t kill us only makes us stronger.  See you guys soon!


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