Monday, May 31, 2010

Benefit Details

Last week I posted a huge thank you to everyone for the benefit that was held on May 21 - but now I want to say thank you again as we've received the final details on the amount raised for Cash.  The tickets for the benefit completely sold out and Rose and her team upped the number of plates from 500 to 700 all in the last minute.  Over 650 people were in attendance and at one point online there were over 200 people watching the live feed.  In addition, many people received haircuts, or Cuts for Cash, and I know there were quite a few more people with shaved heads in the building that night...:-)

By the end of the night, with ticket sales, the auctions, flowers from Kim, and the dessert dash, the benefit raised over $55,000!  What an amazing testament to the support and generosity that has been shown, to be honest we are completely overwhelmed with thankfulness. So many people from the communities we live, have lived in, or know people in have joined together to help us fight.

The money will be used to help Cash continue to fight - we know that after treatment the battle is not over, Cash will need years of physical therapy, speech therapy, and unless his tumor completely goes away with the recent radiation treatments, he'll also need experimental treatments.  Many of the experimental treatments we are discussing are coming from the wonderful team of doctors here at MD Anderson and at Seattle Children's - they are working together to ensure Cash receives the absolute best.

We cannot thank you enough for your time, commitment, support, and prayers during our journey.  Even though Cash's tumor isn't by any means a 'blessing', God has seen to it that we are blessed and that He is glorious.  Thanks be to God for His goodness and please continue to pray with us for healing for Cash!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quiet Weekend

Cash is over halfway done with treatment!  In fact the schedule we received on Friday showed only 10 more treatments.  Monday is a holiday so the tentative final treatment date is June 14.  Cash is doing great and it's been wonderful to have the whole family here.  I uploaded a video of Cash being very sweet with Kingston - you can see it on youtube here

It's really too hot to take the kids outside so we're staying home this weekend.  We will try and take the kids to the zoo or the aquarium again next week, but we're learning we have to go as early as possible.  The temperature rarely drops below 85 and the humidity stays around 90%...a bit different than Seattle. :-)

I have two additional prayer requests this week - the first is for the Yonkman family, Wendi's Aunt Alyce passed away this week after a long battle with cancer.  Aunt Alyce was very instrumental in my becoming a teacher and she made me a better teacher during our many conversations and will be missed tremendously.  The second is for the Brink family - Coleson's last scan revealed additional spots so they did a biopsy to determine what the spots are.  I hope they are benign as I know the Brink's are as well.  Any news regarding cancer since Cash's diagnosis has a much deeper impact on me than it did before.   Cancer has no age restrictions and no bounds and I look forward to the day when we're in Glory and don't have to worry about it anymore...

Thank you for your prayers as always and have a blessed Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

They Made It!

First of all I can't say thank you enough to Roger and Joann - Roger drove nearly 40 straight hours to get Wendi and Kingston here to Houston, resting only for a short 1 hour break and another 4 hour break last night.  They only stopped because of tornado warnings in Kansas.  Nine states in less than 2 days is amazing and God kept them safe.  I didn't get enough video of the arrival, although here's a small clip when they were almost here and when Wendi got a chance to kiss Cash.  The video is in HD so please click here to view it (@ youtube).

The rest of this blog is pictures, they tell a much better story than my words:  Here's Cash meeting Kingston for the first time:

And a picture of the reunited family in front of the motorhome:

Roger wouldn't let my dad out-do his tattoo so during the trip Joann 'tattooed' this on his arm:

Here's a great picture the travelers, including my mom who has already spent over 3 weeks with us in Houston:

Jack and Cash stayed up later than usual to wait for the caravan, so at approximately 9:15 they started getting ready to sleep:

And finally, after a brief meeting last week when I was there when Kingston was born, I am not officially on duty, everyone is asleep except for my mom and I - I have the night shift, except when Kingston is hungry of course.  Jack and Cash are with Wendi and Kingston is with me in the living room because I learned quickly that his cry would wake up both boys and then we'd have our hands even fuller than they already are:

What a blessing it is to be together as a family, Jack was great with Kingston when he met him, Cash more concerned about his mama than anything else.  We're so thankful to God for His many blessings and please pray that Roger and Joann have a safe drive back to Lynden.  They are resting for the night in Galveston and will take off again tomorrow morning.  They are amazing and I'm so thankful that they were able to bring Wendi and Kingston here.

Thank you for your support and prayers and a special thanks to Carl (@ Cargill), Roger and Joann for making our reuniting possible!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Update on the Caravan...

Today was one of those days that started at the hospital early and ended late...On Tuesdays after treatment we go to the main hospital to meet with Cash's oncologist.  Last week his counts were just above the levels required for a transfusion - this morning we found out he needed one today at 1:00.  In between appointments we ran a few errands and Cash received a transfusion from 1:00 until about 5:00.

His energy level was definitely up after the transfusion and he played with Jack Jr. until bedtime.  Speaking of Jack Jr., he has been the best thing for Cash the past few weeks.  Today again he entertained him and kept him busy in spite of the long day...

Wendi kept us posted today with their progress and by the time of this email they are nearing Wichita, Kansas!  She just texted me and said they are 14 hours away and are finally stopping for the night (there are thunderstorms nearing Wichita).  I'm thankful they finally stopped and thankful that God has protected them throughout a near 30-hour drive.  I'll continue to pray for safe travels and hopefully tomorrow we'll all be together once again as a family for the first time in nearly 5 weeks.

Thank you Roger and Joann for driving Wendi and Kingston to Houston - what an amazing blessing and thank you to all for your support and prayers!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

And the Blessings Keep Coming...

Three days after the benefit and we're still overwhelmed with the support and gratitude everyone showed and today another tremendous blessing came our way...Roger and his wife (my dad works with Roger at Cargill) rented a motorhome and today at 5:00 they picked Wendi and Kingston up from Seattle and are driving them down to Houston!

Wendi and Kingston were not going to be cleared to fly until nearly the time Cash was finishing treatments so Roger volunteered to drive her and Kingston here to get them here much quicker.  At first we weren't certain how long it would take to clear her to fly but last night Wendi decided she'd had enough waiting and was feeling good so she called Roger and by this morning he had made all of the arrangements!  It takes at least 40 hours to drive from Seattle to Houston but they are already on their way - Kingston still sleeps quite a bit so I think the drive will be good for both of them.

Needless to say, Jack, Cash, and I are very excited - Cash hasn't seen his mom in over 4 weeks and neither boy has met their little brother.  If I could ask you to pray, I would ask that you pray they have a safe trip and that God puts a hedge of protection around them and the motorhome.  Kingston won't remember the trip of course, but he'll definitely have stories to tell someday of his travels...:-)

I'll keep you updated on their progress and cannot thank Roger and his wife enough - what a blessing - we are blessed and this is just another example of God's provisions and how incredible everyone has been.  Thank you for your support and prayers as always and have a great evening!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thank You!

We have had another good day in Houston and the boys are already sleeping (6:30 Houston time) so I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who attended and/or participated in the benefit for Cash last evening.

We were overwhelmed with the support and how the community came together to help Cash. I am still waiting for details and pictures from the event, including how many people cut their hair in the Cuts for Cash, however while I wait I wanted to blog and thank everyone.

From the committee that worked so hard to the generous donations to those who bought items or simply donated, we would like to say Thank You! I will write more later next week and a simple, written Thank You doesn't even begin to describe how appreciative we are, however please know that from the Parriera and VanderHoek families we appreciate you and Thank God for you.

Have a blessed Sabbath and to Him be the glory!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Auction Items Modeled...

Steph sent me pictures tonight of three of the items that were donated for the benefit tomorrow that I had to share - one is a signed football by Coach Jim Lambright, another a signed helmet from Matt Hasselback, and the last is a signed soccer ball from Freddie Jlungberg (Thanks Darrin P/Turner Construction!):

Thanks Steph for allowing your kids to be models!!! :-)

Update and Benefit LiveStream Details

We've having another great day in Houston - having Jack Jr. here has been great for Cash.  They play all day, starting usually as early as 5:00 a.m. (it depends on who wakes up first).  Today at the proton center Cash rolled his car around all the way to elevator by himself - here's a picture of him and Jack:

And when it was time for Cash to go to the room for treatment, Cash crawled up to the nurse and she took him back there (which was a first!):

This afternoon we're going to go to the zoo with new friends we've met from Seattle who are at the proton center as well receiving treatment for their son, Zach.  Since we arrived 4 weeks ago, the weather looks to be about the same, 90 degrees and humid - need lots of sunscreen, even when it's cloudy...

Benefit Update:
A great friend of ours from Seattle, Kyle, is going to stream the benefit for Cash tomorrow evening live for those who are unable to make it (this includes me...).  To watch a live streaming video of the benefit you can click here -  It will start live around 5:00 p.m. Seattle time.  Everyone has worked very hard on the benefit and we're so appreciative of the work that has been done in mine and Wendi's absence.  What a blessing to have such great family and friends!!!

For those attending the benefit I'll see you tomorrow via the stream and hopefully I'll be skype-ing in to say hi!  Thank you as always for your prayers!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This message brought to you by...

Jeremy and I had to laugh this morning during breakfast - we need to invest Jimmy Dean and Dairygold with the amount of sausage and milk Cash consumes. This morning he ate three sausage patties, a piece of bacon, and a large bottle of milk. The good news is that he's gaining weight and his legs are as chubby as ever.

Everyone is doing well here inn Houston and in Seattle - Jack and Cash sleep with me each night and I wake up with legs and feet all over me - it brings me a lot of joy to have my two oldest boys with me. Wendi and Kingston were discharged from the hospital today and both are doing great. Wendi just texted me a picture of Kingston ready to go home:

Sometime in the middle of the night (Kingston thinks nighttime is day at the moment and doesn't sleep much yet) Wendi sent me this birth announcement:

Everyone is really excited for the benefit on Friday - so many people have been generous with their donations we are simply overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. I hope to Skype in on Friday night to say hi and thank everyone in person so we'll see you on Friday! Thank you for your support and continued prayers - God has been good to us during this season and to Him be the glory!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Pics of Kingston

Thanks to Jodi for coming down yesterday to take these great pics of Kingston - as I promised yesterday, here are a few more...

Mom and baby are doing great! Thank you for your prayers!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welcome Baby Kingston

Well as you know I flew in to Seattle on Friday with the hope to help Wendi deliver her baby...I was set to fly out this morning, however, by last evening the baby was not coming...I delayed my flight thankfully.

We walked Greenlake twice yesterday, and the second time around contractions were 2 minutes apart (but weak). I decided to take Wendi to Swedish Ballard at 10 o'clock last night, hoping she was far enough along do they'd keep her and start inducing.

They put her on the monitor and immediately noticed the babies heartbeat had dropped three times below their safe levels...I had also explained that I was leaving town so we would love to have the baby sooner than later...our doctor was out of town so they called the on-call doctor in around 11:00 pm. We were a bit apprehensive because our doctor also delivered Cash, but Dr Emmanuel was amazing (as was our day nurse, Deb (more on her later)...

They put Wendi on petosin at 1:30 am and by 10:00 am today progress was slow...they finally kicked up the meds and by 4:30 Wendi was just about ready to start pushing...*but* Deb noticed something unusual and asked the doctor to do one more ultrasound to make sure baby was in the right place...

Turns out he wasn't - sometime during the day he switched around and was all of a sudden breach. That started a very quick process to do a C section and 30 minutes later baby Kingston was delivered. We had no time to even consider what was happening and for the past 30 hours we were gearing up for a natural birth. I was in scrubs and Wendi was in the operating room within minutes of learning of the breach.

God was clearly with us today in many ways - nurse Deb wasn't even supposed to work today but was called in at the last minute...from our on-call doctor to the surgeons to the nurses, everything worked according to His plan.

So at 5:04 pm Kingston van Louis Parriera was born, weighing in at a whopping 9 pounds, .06 ounces. Wendi and Kingston are both doing great - here are a few early pics (Cousin Jodi, the other half of theSnapsisters took more this evening):

I could write for days about all of the blessings today, in spite of the unexpected challenges - Jack Jr and Jeremy made it safely to Houston and I'll join them tomorrow - I haven't seen Jack Jr in 4 weeks and he hadn't seen his 'Cashy' in that same length of time. We need some rest so I'll continue later. Thank you always for your prayers!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 14, 2010

Greetings from Seattle!

Yes you read correctly - I am in Seattle...Thanks to a generous donation of miles from the Van Dam family, I flew in this morning and surprised Wendi when I arrived.  I will leave Sunday afternoon with Jack Jr. and Jeremy.  The one challenge is there's no baby yet!  We are hoping that baby #3 decides to join us very soon, however, no progress to report yet.  We ultimately know that his arrival is in God's hands so if I have to leave Sunday without having met him yet, I will meet him soon.

In the meantime, my mom and dad are taking care of Cash - they are so good with him and my mom texted me a photo of Cash and dad early this morning after I was already at the airport:
I'm so thankful that I have this opportunity to go home for a few days and we're really praying that baby comes soon.  My parents have been incredible the past few weeks and while I already miss Cash, I know he's in great hands.

I will post as soon as I have news...please continue to pray and thank you as always for your support!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Small Victory

One of the most significant affects of Cash's tumor has been the limited use of his right side - more specifically his right hand and leg.  Since my parents have been here they've been working with him to use his right hand more and while this video doesn't look that impressive, it's a small victory in this long fight.

We're thankful to God for this small victory and know that even after treatment, Cash has a long journey ahead of him.  I'm certain there will be months, if not years, of physical therapy to rebuild and retrain his muscles once the tumor resides.  He is willing to learn, however, and even though he doesn't like us pushing him to use his right hand, he's becoming more comfortable with using it again.

Have a blessed rest-of-the-week and thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pictures, Video and a Benefit

Today was Cash's 5th radiation treatment - we're thankful to God that he's tolerated the treatments so well, he always wakes up and seems refreshed and excited.  He drinks a lot of milk and talks and talks and talks.  I know my parents are really enjoying their time with him and he will definitely miss them.  This morning they played with Cash and even though he was hungry and wanted his milk, you would not have known it...

We had our weekly appointment with the oncologist and Cash's counts are good so no transfusion this week. Three more radiation treatments left and we're done with week 2...

The team working on the benefit have been working very hard to prepare for the event on the 21st. I won't be there in person, however, we are working on a way for me to say hi via the internet. The number of donations has been incredible and Laura put together a piece on the benefit and the donations (see below).

Still no news on the baby to report - Wendi keeps walking and walking hoping the little one has decided it is time...

Finally after a great day today, here is Cash with new toys given to him by our friends the Middlebrooks - sitting on his car with his new friend the giraffe.  Thank you for continuing to pray and praise God for small blessings and good days!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another Permanent Hope

Yesterday Cash went to his first Astro's game - thanks to our new friend Carol, we sat in a very nice suite on the third base line.  Cash did well, except he didn't watch the game at all, he watched Diego on the iPad (oh well, we enjoyed the game).  Here are a few pics:

In addition to the game, I had to follow in my dad's footsteps and we visited the tattoo shop...Wendi and I started working on a tattoo for my arm as soon as we saw my dad's.  We already have 'Cuts for Cash', now we're working on 'Tats for Cash' - here's a pic of the still-swollen and a bit red tattoo:

Mucho thanks to my lovely wife for the beautiful design, she told me it was a great Mother's Day present so that makes me happy.

Speaking of Mother's Day, this has been the first time I've been away from my wife on Mother's Day and I know my mom misses all of kids and grandkids but we're making due.  No baby yet but Wendi's staying busy on this Mother's Day.  I miss her tremendously but I know we'll be together soon - she is an amazing mom to our two sons and third on the way (hurry up baby!).  Happy Mother's day to all mom's and especially to my mom who has given three-plus months of her life recently to caring for Cash, she is a very special mom and we love her very much.

Thank you for your prayers and support as always!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Early Morning Laughter

Cash loves to stack blocks and knock them down - This morning I captured a perfect example of what he does when he stacks and knocks blocks down...His laugh is precious and makes us all laugh here in Houston...

Have a blessed day everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Past Few Days

We have had a pretty good first week with proton therapy.  Yesterday, however, we received a call at 8:00 a.m. just as we were getting ready to head over there and they had had a power outage and the proton machines were down.  We waited for the call to tell us it was up and running, but by noon I canceled his appointment - Cash was hungry and ready to drink his milk.  They did get the machines back up around 4:00 and today we continued his treatment, the appointment we missed will be added to the end (tentatively set for June 16).

Cash tolerates the radiation pretty well - he is definitely more tired and tells us, "night-night" around 6:00 p.m.  I try to keep him up a bit later because he's also been waking up very early (4:30/5:00 a.m.) - when he wakes up he immediately wants milk, but on treatment days he can't have milk or juice so we have to keep him busy and his mind off of milk...

Tomorrow we'll be heading to an Astro's game and I'm excited to see how Cash reacts to the crowds and stadium (although I hear the Astro's are about as bad as the Mariner's right now, maybe there'll be no one there).  My parents are still here and have provided incredible support - I haven't lost any weight because of their great cooking.

No baby yet either (hurry up baby!), however, Wendi is doing well and I'll continue to post any updates on that front.  I hope everyone has a great mother's day weekend and thank you for your support and prayers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Permanent Hope

I was tempted to simply post this picture but it's a great story so continue reading for the story behind the picture...After proton therapy today we went over to the main campus because Cash needed a transfusion.  My mom mentioned that dad wanted to have his tattoo filled in (on his other arm) b/c it's 30+ years old and needs a touch up - I found them a few tattoo parlor's and they left while Cash had to endure another 3.5 hour transfusion...

They come back about three hours later and told me they couldn't fill in his old tattoo so he decided to get a new one - it was all covered with a patch to protect it for the next 24 hours, however, when we got home, my dad did the reveal (which is what you see above).  I immediately had my mom text it to my brothers and Wendi.  Dad told me he's been wanting to do it since Cash got sick - to me it's truly a permanent reminder of his hope and love for Cash.  I was waiting for the third baby to be born to get a new tattoo but I may not wait and join him soon...I did give him a big hug and we shared a few tears...

Speaking of baby #3, no news yet.  Wendi is at home with Jack Jr. and her sister and they're just waiting.  I will obviously post as soon as the little guy is born - for now we are praying for a safe and healthy delivery.

Corey (@ Hage Creative) sent us a few more photos he took before we left today - they are great and I had to post them.

The last one is what Jack Jr. does best, run around with a big smile on his face...Cash and I miss his energy and can't wait for him to come down soon with mom and little brother...

Cash has endured treatment and all of the additional appointments well - he's tired from the radiation, however, he's still very strong and continues to pick up new phrases and words - he definitely knows how to tell us 'No' when he's not interested in something (usually food-related).  We're extremely thankful to God and I continue to pray for healing and that God puts a hedge of protection around him so he stays healthy and able to keep going to treatment each day.

Thank you as always for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

First Day of Proton Therapy

This morning we headed to the MD Anderson Proton Center for Cash's first treatment.  I wasn't nervous, just anxious to get started.  Everyone there is wonderful and the process is pretty smooth - Cash and I check in and I take him to get his vitals (blood pressure, temp, and oxygen levels), then we wait for the anesthesia team to call us to the area with the proton machine in it.  They then give him the sleepy juice through his line and he falls to sleep almost immediately and I leave and go and wait until the radiation is done and then I meet him in recovery, where he is sleeping.  This morning he slept for about 30 minutes after the procedure and as soon as he wakes up, I give him as much milk as he can drink (we have to stop milk 6 hours before any anesthesia).  Then we leave and come back the next day...

My parents were with me today and dad went back with me to see the machine - it's impressive and everyone we meet in the waiting room is as positive about the therapy as we are.  Cash will develop a slight 'burn' in the area on his head that they are targeting, but two of the parents indicated it is almost like a sunburn and we just keep a special medication on it to prevent irritation.

My parents and I were talking on the way home and it's hard because unless you are here, it's very difficult to feel assured and comfortable with the process.  We were very excited about the process today and I want you all to feel comforted (if at all possible) with the radiation treatments as we are.  We also received confirmation that the chemo Cash was receiving (and will receive) in Seattle was/is the best protocol available for this type of tumor - we're thrilled now to have two teams working together to help us beat this.

Yesterday we took Cash to the pool - he can't go underwater b/c of his port, but he sure likes to splash and have fun...

Please continue to pray for Cash and all those that have cancer - we met even more families today with similar stories - God has all of them in His hands.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Few More Pics

Jeremy left this morning (:-() - We will miss him but thankfully my mom and dad are on their way.  They are driving over 2400 miles from Lynden to Houston and should be here this afternoon.  It will be great to see them, I know they are looking forward to spending time with Cash.

A few days ago Jeremy and I went to the Bass Pro Shop here in Houston - it's an a amazing place with lots to see for Cash:

In addition, today I shot a short video of Cash after I read a Tigger book - he's fascinated with tigers lately...

Tomorrow we have a audiology appointment and then he starts radiation on Tuesday - keep praying for healing as radiation will definitely start killing tumor cells...