Sunday, September 28, 2008

story time!

i'm here to ask for those michael stories i know you've been thinking about. i have received some (which have been so great to read), but i know there are a lot more out there! so get those pens out or start typing and send them to me please:)! i never gave a time frame, but am hoping to start working on putting them together soon. it's going to be such an amazing finished product. it will be a true treasure for me and especially the boys! michael had such an incredible impact on SO many and i want his boys to know that! thanks for helping make this happen!

also please include a picture of yourself or your family if possible so i can show the boys all the people their daddy loved!

disney was GREAT!



we went to disney two weeks ago! thanks to some VERY generous friends the boys and i along with my sister got to spend five days in florida! it was amazing! it was wonderful having erin there (thanks gail and jerrel for watching eliana and harper). the four of us had a great time together making some more amazing memories. the boys loved all the rides. noah was tall enough to ride lots more this time and kaleb was even tall enough for space mountain. and he rode it! he was so brave! we got to see many characters too!
now it's back to the real world! it was a fun escape and much needed one. life seems to move too fast some times, so it was nice to slow down and truly enjoy each other. we are all still enjoying school and doing well. this fall will be busy with school stuff, clemson games and some visits from family!
thanks for your continued support and prayers! we still need them and appreciate them!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

school starts!





i can't believe that i have a kindergartener! wow! it is official- kaleb is in big school! he started last monday and hasn't stopped since. i woke him up at 6:30 the first three days of school and since then he's been up on his own (including saturday and sunday - which we'll have to work on). last monday morning he hopped on the bus just as big as he could be. i am SO proud of him and continue to be. noah and i walk kaleb to the bus stop every morning, which is only one house over and then sit under our willow tree waiting for the bus to drop him back off after school. kaleb seems to be loving it. he doesn't say a whole lot but every now and then he shares a little sneak peak of his day.
noah started his 3's preschool class last monday too. he is doing great. he's already earned three trips to the treasure box! it's been a little strange and much more quiet as i've only been driving noah to preschool. it gives us some special one on one time that noah and i have never gotten. i think it works out well and noah probably could use some focused attention these days.
my new class of pre-k kids is going good too. i have 8 girls and 2 boys. that's alot of bows and dresses in my room! something different, but good!
i am totally busy with all our schools and being mom. i don't think i've ever been as tired as i am these past two weeks (worse than pregnancy and that was tough). it's been a physical and emotional drain. i have missed michael alot this past week. i know he would be SO proud of kaleb. school was always a big deal to michael, i think he even changed his middle name to it after two masters degrees and the dream of more. i remind kaleb and noah how proud daddy is, even from heaven.
i am so thankful school is going so great for all of us! God is amazing in his mercy and grace! i trust in Him to take care of it all! He has so far and i don't doubt He'll ever stop!

summer fun!


hi friends!
it has been a fun and busy summer! thanks for being patient with me as i haven't blogged in a couple months. hopefully with the routine of school and work starting i'll get better!
this summer was full of fun little trips. we spent some time at my sister's house in summerville, sc, the beach, the whole brietzke/peters family took a trip to tennessee, and we had lots of weekend visitors, like grammie and papa! we celebrated kaleb's fifth birthday in june - i can't believe he's that old!
overall, we are doing well. the boys are enjoying life, just like michael would have wanted! they miss their daddy and talk about him a little bit. i miss him too! we are still so grateful to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who continually support and encourage us! with them and of course, our big God we are moving forward, remembering the great memories we have and being thankful for what we also have now.
please continue to pray for us as i know that helps so much!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Running for Cover

isn't this amazing. we are truly being loved on from so many different people and even those we don't know. i've been in email contact with angie bowbliss (who started this event last year) since last summer after reading about the event last summer. it's been great to have someone who is truly walking through the same things to share with. this year angie wants to donate some of the money raised to our family. wow! one of the awards given out at the ceremony will also be named in michael's honor. another wow! i continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of so many. i just wanted to let you know about the event and if any one wants to participate that would be great too! i'll be there!

Running for Cover At South Forsyth High School

THIRD ANNUAL 5K RUN / 1 MILE WALK

The second annual Running for Cover - Atlanta will be held at South Forsyth High School in Cumming, GA. The Atlanta event was started in 2007 after Pete Bowbliss was diagnosed in 2005 with malignant melanoma. We are dedicated to raising awareness regarding the importance of sunscreen and skin care in the prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers. We also realize the importance of assisting families locally that have been effected by terminal melanoma. When: Sunday, June 29, 2008. Race Time: 7:00AM, Walk time: 7:15AM Same Day Registration: 6:00am-7:00AM Post Race Awards Ceremony: 8:30AM

WHEN
Sunday, June 29, 2008. Race Time: 7:00AM, Walk time: 7:15AM Same Day Registration: 6:00am-7:00AM Post Race Awards Ceremony: 8:30AM

WHERE
South Forsyth High School, 585 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, GA 30041Call 404-663-4123 for more details

TO BENEFIT
The Noreen O'Neill Foundation for Melanoma Research and The Wistar Institute and the Michael Colwell Family of Cumming, GA

REGISTRATION $20 per person
Participants will receive a t-shirt, bracelet
and one raffle ticket.
DONATIONS
Donate $20 and receive a bracelet.

to register visit
www.foundationformelanomaresearch.org/runwalk/

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

favor addition

hi friends!
i've gotten a great response from many of you letting me know you are working on those letters for michael's book. many of you were already a few steps ahead of me and going to do that anyway! you all are amazing! if i could i'd like to ask you to send in/email a picture with your letter. it would be amazing if you had one with michael, but of course one of you or your family would be great too. it would really give the boys a visual of all the people's lives that their daddy has impacted. i thank you already for doing this. it's going to be something great! just like michael was!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

big favor

i need your help! i want to put together a book for the boys about michael. i would love if anyone could to send a letter or email, nothing long, retelling a story about michael, a description of him or somehow he impacted your life. it can be funny, serious, sad, happy anything. then at the bottom please have your name with how you knew michael. i thought i could put them all together and make a book out of all of them for the boys to be able to look at later! i don't want them to forget or wonder about what daddy was like. this will help them continue to keep daddy alive in their hearts and see how they themselves are like him! it is something kaleb, noah and i will treasure for a long time! thanks for your help!

one day at a time

hi friends!
i know many have been anxious for an update from us. thanks for your patience as there is a lot to get used to and get done around here. we are doing ok. this has been our first week just the three of us and we've made it! it was a busy week. kaleb had his kindergarten graduation on monday night. he did fantastic and it was so great watching noah watch his big brother. noah was so proud and couldn't take his eyes off of kaleb. i also had a teacher appreciation dinner wednesday which was a nice end to the school year. the boys are now off at nana and grandpa's for the weekend. it'll give them a chance to be spoiled and loved and me a chance to relax and maybe catch up on a little sleep. this weekend is much needed and appreciated! i'm looking forward to not making any decisions and not having to be too responsible.
thanks for your continued prayers. they are evident daily in the strength and joy that the boys and i find every day. the boys are doing great. we talk about daddy often and they find comfort in the fact that God is taking care of daddy now, he is not sick anymore and daddy is alive in heaven. they are remarkable. i draw my strength from our amazingly gracious God who continues to provide what i need. i am especially grateful for my girls who surround and lift me up daily.
God is good! i believe and hope you do too!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

celebration

friday was amazing! it was wonderful celebration of michael's life. we were blessed to be surrounded by SO many friends and family! the service is exactly what michael would have wanted. all the many hours of prep and service from so many at north point is greatly appreciated. i can't say enough wonderful things about our north point family. they have truly made this week tons easier and their love overwhelms me! now that i've learned how to do this blog thing i'll try to keep it going. thanks to everyone who has showered their love on us. we are so grateful! it keeps us going! we continue to praise our mighty God for walking through this all with us. He will sustain us and help us keeping moving forward! many have asked about how to help out our family. there has been a fund set up to do just that. here's the info.

If you would like to contribute, please mail your tax-deductible gifts made payable to Helping Hands Ministries to:


Helping Hands Ministries

Account #63045

P.O. Box 337

Tallulah Falls, GA 30573

Please be sure to notate account #63045 in the memo section of your check.


we love you all and ask you to continue to pray for our family as each day will bring about some change. may we embrace it wholeheartedly and know we don't need to be afraid, just believe!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

obituary

here's a copy of the obituary that we placed in the
paper. i thought i'd share it with all of you who
may not get to see it. it was been a peaceful week.
i know the next few days will be hard, but i'm hoping
they can be a real celebration!


Colwell, Michael T.

Michael T. Colwell, Jr. of Cumming went to be with the
Lord on Sunday, May 4, 2008. He was born June 27, 1976
in Monroe, Louisiana to Mr. and Mrs. Michael T.
Colwell, Sr. He attended Clemson University in
Clemson, S.C. where he received his bachelors and
masters degrees in Electrical Engineering. He also
received his Masters in Theology from Dallas
Theological Seminary in Dallas Texas in 2003. While at
Clemson, Michael was President of the Fellowship of
Christian Athletes and met his beloved wife Jennifer.
Michael was a staff member and pastor at North Point
Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.

In addition to his wife Jennifer, Michael is survived
by his two children, Kaleb and Noah, his parents, Mr.
and Mrs. Michael T. Colwell, Sr., his sister Catherine
of Indianapolis, Indiana, his grandmothers, Mrs. JoAnn
Dekeyzer of Aleaxandria, LA, Mrs. Nobie Gibson of
Delhi, LA, and Mrs. Helen Bradshaw of W. Monroe, LA,
his mother and father in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Donald
Brietzke of Seneca, S.C. and his sister and
brother-in-law, Erin and Clay Jernigan and their
children, Eliana and Harper Michael Jernigan, all of
Summerville, S.C.

A visitation will be held Thursday evening, May 8 at
McDonald and Son Funeral Home, 150 Sawnee Drive in
Cumming, GA from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. A celebration of
Michael’s life will be held at North Point Community
Church on Friday, May 9 at 11:00. In lieu of flowers,
tax-deductible gifts may be made to the Michael
Colwell Memorial Fund, Account #63045, c/o Helping
Hands Ministries, P.O. Box 337, Tallulah Falls, GA
30537.

Monday, May 5, 2008

michael is dancing

i didn't think i'd be writing this email this soon. after a two year battle with cancer that michael fought with such toughness and determination he is now rejoicing with our Lord in heaven. michael peacefully passed away last night at 11:50 pm. yesterday was a tough day. michael went to bed as normal saturday night. he even slipped out of bed around 3:00am. i helped him back into bed and he made some silly comment about being clumsy. when the boys woke me up in the morning around 7:30 i noticed michael was slightly labored in his breathing. at first i just thought he was snoring, but after looking at him his left eye was slightly open and looked unresponsive. i tried to wake him up and couldn't. i moved his arms, legs, tried sitting him up and put water on his face, but nothing. i then called our oncologist office who told me to call 911 right away. i did and the fire truck and ambulance were here in under fifteen minutes and by 8:25 we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. once arriving they put him on a ventilator and got a ct scan to see what was happening. two of his tumors had some more bleeding and there was tremendous pressure in his head causing his brain to be pushed down to the base of his brain stem (called herniated). i was quickly told this was not a reversible condition and there was nothing we could do. he would not recover from this. he was not in any pain and it would be a matter of hours before we would lose him. around 11-12 they moved him up to an icu room where we (me, my dad, bill and andy) sat with him. my mom and sister also made it to the hospital for a little while and were able to say their goodbyes. michael's parents got in their car and started the seemingly never ending drive. thankfully they arrived around 10:00pm and michael was still with us. the ventilator was the only thing keeping him alive. after spending some time with him we decided around 11:30ish to stop the ventilator. this was something michael and i had talked about. it only took minutes since he was not able to breath on his own before he peacefully was embraced by our loving heavenly Father who took him home. of course i would have preferred a miraculous healing, but since obviously this was michael's time to go i couldn't have asked for better circumstances surrounding the day. we were blessed with lots of loving friends in the waiting room, great neighbors who stepped up without hesitating, an amazing hospital staff who was supportive and michael being painfree and totally peaceful. it was a long hard day, but i can smile today knowing he's where he belongs. and nobody loves him more than my God. he's left an imprint in many lives which is exactly what he wanted to do. he will continue to live on through all of us and especially his sweet boys. please pray for them as this is something so foreign and strange. i talked with them this morning and we shared some tears together, but all agreed we would still love and talk about daddy whenever we wanted to. and of course he would never stop loving us. thank you already for all your love and support. it comforting to know i have so many amazing people around me ready to help with anything! let this week be a celebration of michael's life! he most definitely deserves it!
love,
jen
here's all the details for the week
thursday, may 8 4-8pm
visitation at McDonald & Son funeral home
150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, GA 30040

friday, may 9 11:00am
service at North Point Community Church
4350 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022

Saturday, May 3, 2008

saturday

michael is doing about the same. he is resting a lot. he is very tired and weak usually only sitting up to eat and then spending most of the rest of the time laying down. his speech is about the same too. he understands fine just has trouble expressing himself.
we saw the neurosurgeon yesterday. (thankfully we had a wheelchair delivered right before we left so michael didn't have to walk too far). dr. weaver examined michael physically looking at the site of infection on his head and by asking him some questions. the site looked good. michael did fine following directions, but had more trouble naming objects. weaver said the language issues could still be from the blood from the hemorrhaged tumor (especially since that tumor is located so closely to the speech area of the brain). the blood can take up to three months to be fully absorbed back into the body. he said it could also be simply from the pressure surrounding that area. he will be able to tell more after looking at the next mri. we will go back and see him monday, may 12 to get his take from the mri. the only thing we need to be watching as far as he is concerned is any more headaches and the site of previous infection for any build up or oozing.
next week is our busy week. we'll head wednesday to northside to get a pet scan. thursday is a mri at north fulton hospital and friday get the results at our oncologist visit. it's going to be a lot for michael. please pray for strength and these outings seem to talk a lot out of him.
we are continuing to feel the out pouring of love from all of you! every time we turn a corner one of you is standing there with some amazing offer of encouragement (thanks angie). today we had our family room makeover and it is AMAZING!!!! it looks so beautiful and i know every time i sit in it (especially those quiet moments at night) i will feel the love with which it was thought of and brought together! thanks to everyone who was a part of that! i am so grateful!
i'll let you know how the week goes. it'll probably not be till next weekend when i actually know something. each day is special and we are treating them like it. God's purpose through all of this may never be understood, but that ok because i trust in who God is and not what i want Him to do. He is very evident in our lives right now and we can feel His love through all of you! thanks for helping us stand strong and tall!

Friday, April 25, 2008

friday

it's been a busy day here. we have worn michael out. getting him to take a shower and have two doctor visits is more than he's used to. here is the latest news. dr. dailey (infectious disease) said he thinks the infection is under control. he had michael's pic line taken out and now he'll be on oral antibiotics for another 10 days. yeah! we also do not need to go back and see him unless something comes up. it feels great to have something behind us and wrapped up.
at our oncologists, michael had some blood drawn and then in for a visit. his platelet and cell counts were good, so he can continue taking the chemo pills. they will also be sending the blood off to check for other possible deficiencies. if any appear they will call monday to let us know. michael has lost a lot of weight too, almost about 20 pounds in the last couple months. we got a prescription for an appetite enhancer (yeah, who thought michael would ever need that?!) to see if that will help. it's possible some of the confusion could be related to that. of course there are other possibilities too. michael is scheduled for a pet scan on wednesday, may 7, an mri on thursday, may 8 and then back to the doctor for results on friday, may 9. that'll be a big week for us. at that time they should be able to determine if the chemo pills are being effective or not and give us a more precise prognosis.
we go back to our neurosurgeon next friday, may 2 for a follow up. hopefully he can answer a few more questions about michael's brain function and the best thing we can do for it.
please pray for a healthy appetite for michael and that we would start putting some weight back on. also that he would experience clarity in his thinking and speaking. thank you all so much for your continued love. as things change or new info presents itself i'll let you know. in the meantime we will just be resting and trying to enjoy each moment we have trying to remember it truly is a gift from God. He is the giver of all good things! i have been given SO many good things even in the midst of this craziness. my God has been with me before this all started, continues to be with me through all of this, and promises to be with me forever. though lots seem to change in our lives, our God will remain the same! that gives me a peace for yesterday, contentment for today and a hope for tomorrow! we love you all!

Monday, April 21, 2008

monday

it was back to school for me and the boys today. it was nice to get back to a little normal. michael's parents and sister stayed home with him. his day seemed to be slightly better. he only took a couple of naps in hopes of getting back into a regular schedule. he is still having trouble getting his thoughts out at times and multi task processing can be overwhelming (like trying to play go fish with the boys). we are hoping for a good nights rest and some more steps forward tomorrow. we will see our infectious disease doctor and oncologist on friday this week. i'll probably start sending emails out every couple of days or as things seem to change. he seems to be glad to be home. he still isn't up for visitors yet. i'll let you know when that changes. the boys have been great! they want to "help daddy and make him happy" as kaleb puts it. noah will still crawl up in michael's lap and just sit. at one time today we all left the family room briefly except michael, when i came back in the room kaleb was sitting right next to michael. he said "don't worry i was sitting with daddy while you were gone so i could help him." how amazing! what a blessing that the boys don't seem to be bothered or too curious about why daddy is different than before. they have seemed to except it for now and adjusted accordingly. praise God for that and pray it continues. please pray for strength as each day seems to take a little more out of us. may God fill us up daily with His everlasting love and mighty strength.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

sunday

it's sunday and it was nice to be at home. the kids and i had fun playing outside and we've got papa and aunt cathey working hard in our garage putting up some new shelves. michael's day was ok. he was able to get a few naps in and eat a little. still no fever so that's good too. he is having trouble communicating. he seems to understand the things we say, but is not always able to tell us what he wants/needs. he did also say some random things today. he knows he gets confused. his balance seemed a little off today too. we again are thankful to be home and also glad to have help, since it is definitely needed. please continue to pray for michael's continued recovery. this has definitely hit him hard and recovery is a lot slower that hoped for. that being said we know all is in God's perfect timing. He knows best when and what we need. He is our great provider! may we rest in that tonight!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

saturday

it's hard to believe that two weeks ago i was driving michael to the er with a severe headache. that seems so long ago, but still fresh in my memory. last night was his first night home and he rested better. he was still in and out of sleep a lot, but it did seem better. today was his first full day home. he pretty much rotated between sleeping, eatping, and sitting on the couch all day. he didn't eat much, but some at each meal. his confusion seems to be gone too. at times he appears to struggle with finding words, but for the most part is very coherent. thankfully there has been no more fever either. praying for a little improvement every day. it is just going to be a slow process. i'm glad my God is patient and does not grow weary. He can carry us for as long as it takes and then some! wishing you all a glorious sunday!

Friday, April 18, 2008

friday

michael is home!!! yeah! we are SO excited to all be sleeping in our own beds tonight. we were able to leave the hospital around 2:15 today. this morning michael had a pick line put in which went well. his sister cathey arrived safely from indianapolis and made it to the hospital to have lunch with us. once the paperwork was ready we were out of there. we made one stop on the way home at the office of dr. dailey (our infectious disease doctor). his nurse, lori, showed me how to give michael his antibiotic through the pick line. it's a five step process, but very easy and should only take a total of about twenty minutes. then i dropped michael off at home and headed back to the pharmacy for more prescriptions. it was nice to all be home this evening. michael did give us a little of a scare tonight. around 7:00 or so he was getting confused again. i had just given him so pain medication for a headache. his speech was slurred, was saying random things and couldn't answer those question we had in the icu (where are you, how old, ect.) i called dr. weaver (our neurosurgeon) around 8:00 and he said to give michael about an hour and see if it might be the pain medication. if he isn't better than we were to bring him back to the er. michael wanted to go to bed about 8:30 and seemed alittle better, but still confused. he's resting now and we are praying that it was the medicine. let's pray for a great night and a clear head in the morning. please pray for wisdom and patience as this continues to be a longer journey than expected. my God can do that for all of us! He is that gracious!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

thursday

michael had a fairly restful day. he actually was
able to get a few naps in which was good. he did have
one high 102 fever, but with medicine it came down
quickly. after talking to all the doctors the plan is
to put in a pick line (a more permanent iv) tomorrow
so that michael can continue an antibiotic iv at home
and hopefully come home possibly tomorrow too! yeah!
that would be great! i'll be spending the night with
him tonight. his sister will be flying in tomorrow
for a couple days, so we'll have more help and a
friendly face! let's pray for a great night and
coming home (as long as he is medically ready).
love,
jen
p.s i now have a new nephew! my sister erin and her
husband clay had their second child tonight around
7:00. his name is harper michael jernigan. he was
8lb and 4oz and 20 1/2 in. all are doing great!
praise God for new life!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

wednesday

it's mid week and things continue to look better.
michael had a decent night and rested most of today.
the doctors stopped by and feel things are going well
enough to move him back to a regular room. that
should happen sometime this evening (i'm actually
writing this pretty early in the day since i'll be
going out to celebrate my birthday with some friends
for dinner tonight). he did have another fever today
around 3:00. it was about 101.6. it had been over 24
hours since his last fever and this one wasn't as
high, so hopefully that's a good sign. we'll have to
talk to the doctors about that tomorrow. i think if
we can get the fever under control michael will be
able to come home! please pray for that! i know he
would love to continue to recover at home. another
praise is that he's now on the steroid every other
day. yeah! let's pray that helps his sleep. praise
God for a beautiful day and pray for another good one
tomorrow! my God is glorious!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

tuesday

tuesday- it has been a better day. michael seemed to
get at least a little rest last night. during the day
he was pretty good too. he ran a low grade fever
early morning and then spiked another one around
11:00, but then none since. i hope that's a good
sign. michael is still tired and weak, but he is back
to himself. he knows what is going on and does not
seem to have anymore confusion right now. praise God
for that! he also seemed a bit more peaceful today.
he was not agitated and didn't shake much. our
neurosurgeon said he will be in the neuro icu at least
another 24 hours to monitor the fevers. it seems
we'll go day to day, not making any big plans. let's
pray for some more rest and an even better day
tomorrow. we continued to be showered with fervent
prayers, encouraging messages and generous actions
(loved getting the house cleaned today- thanks to all
who helped make that happen). these keep us going and
we know God has put you in our lives at this specific
time for Him to use you to bless us! we think you are
GREAT people! may we all rest well tonight waking
tomorrow with a smile on our face and a joy in our
heart for another day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

monday

today we've had a little bump in the road. michael
ran a fever this morning and again this afternoon. he
also started getting pretty agitated around 2:00. he
was given some medicine to calm down which helped. he
also started getting confused again. he was saying
some strange things and doesn't really know what's
going on, very similar to last week in the neuro icu.
dr. weaver (our neurosurgeon) came by around 6:00. he
drained some more infection from the back of michael's
head. he got quite a bit. more than likely it's the
infection that is causing the fevers. hopefully
draining it will help. michael will be moved back to
the neuro icu tonight for a closer watch. dr. weaver
will be back by tomorrow to check the site for more
infection. hopefully he got it all and michael will
start to improve. if the infection continues to
collect then he would have to open him back up and a
do a thorough cleaning through surgery. as far as the
confusion it is possibly linked to the infection. we
won't know until we can get a hold on the infection.
the first priority is clearing up the infection so it
doesn't travel elsewhere. right now we are actually
waiting for a room in the icu and michael is resting
peacefully. he's not sleeping, but after a fairly
intense afternoon it's SO good to see him still!
please pray for a restful night and that infection
would be going away. i am hopeful to see a much
improved michael in the morning. my God will be with
me either way, helping me stand strong and fight this
with michael each step of the way. we are thankful to
be surrounded by great family and friends!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

sunday

it is our second sunday in the hospital. this was
much better than last. michael's night was ok last
night. he slept some off and on, but is really
lacking some extended quality sleep. he had his ct
scan this morning. both doctors came by while i was
at church, so i missed them again. the scan showed no
new infection area which is good. as long as the day
went well and michael did not run a fever anymore,
they said it was possible to go home tomorrow. that
was good to hear. unfortunately around 2:30 or so
michael started another fever. we don't know what
that means in terms of going home. our regular
neurosurgeon will be back tomorrow so we'll talk to
him. michael also had some more speech and physical
therapy. my parents brought the kids back today and
stopped by the hospital. it was great to see them and
hear their sweet laughs. hopefully it will be an
uneventful evening with no more fevers and lots of
sleep! let's pray for that! one day at a time. we
will cast our cares on the Lord knowing He is willing
and able to carry them! i'm SO glad my God is SO big!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

saturday

here's todays report. last night michael's fever
spiked again to around 103. thanks to good medicine
it didn't last too long. other than that the night
was ok. he seemed to get a little sleep on and off.
this morning he spiked another fever and again in the
afternoon. other than the fevers he had a good day.
he had some physical and speech therapy. both went
well and making good progress. his vision is still
blurry, but he was able to watch some of he masters
and could tell what was going on. i managed to
finally find a pharmacy that carried the chemo pill
michael will start again. they only have enough for
three doses, but could get the rest in a couple days.
michael will start that tomorrow. of course while i
was gone both our neurosurgeon and infectious disease
doctor came by. the disease guy is wondering if there
might be another pocket of infection causing michael's
fevers. he'll have another ct scan tomorrow morning
focusing on just that. he's still tired and weak, but
i'm so proud of him pushing forward through all of
this. it's definitely nothing he wants, but keeps
thanking God for all the little blessings (like
finding hot tea at the hospital today). his faith is
encouraging to me and wants nothing more than bringing
glory to God in every step. he is amazing! i thank
God each day for him! thanks for praying for him and
our whole family! we love you!

Friday, April 11, 2008

friday

it's day number 7 in the hospital. today was an up and down day. michael didn't sleep well last night, having to get up almost ever hour to use the bathroom (thanks papa for helping out all night!). he had some more oozing from his head this morning and off and on fever, once spiking to 103. the results showed it is a staff infection and he'll continue to be on antibiotics. the neurosurgeon checked out the site and said it looked good and that it was a good thing that it was coming out. we'll have to keep a close watch on it to make sure it doesn't collect in his head causing more trouble and further surgery to take care of it. that means we'll be in the hospital until mid week he said. of course that was not what michael wanted to hear. please pray he doesn't get too discouraged. he's feeling a little helpless and very dependent, which is very different for him.
our oncologist also stopped by and talked to us. he suggested that michael start taking the chemo pill everyday. that would be followed up by some blood work in two weeks and then another mri in a month. he still had not be in contact with our specialist but was still working on that. we are pleased with the plan and will start soon. our oncologist also gave michael a prescription for a new sleeping pill. he was really excited about that! he didn't sleep much today so he is extremely tired! please pray for sleep- true restorative sleep! this evening i've spent some time trying to get all the prescriptions we need. it hasn't been easy so far. i'll have to spend some more time tomorrow working on that. please pray that all works out and michael can get what he needs.
his vision seems to be getting just slightly better we think. he's not seeing double so much, but things are still very blurry. praise God for the little things!
it's 8:06 and michael might actually be sleeping. i'm excited to get this done before 11:00. i'll be staying at the hospital tonight with him. michael's parents can hopefully get some good rest at our house, while our boys are in the clemson with my parents this weekend (thanks mom and dad).
as we'll be here longer than expected and desired please pray it would be a great time of recovery and rest. may the time go by quickly and michael feel better even faster. we're glad to be in such good hands! God is watching out for us each step of the way. until tomorrow....
love,
jen

Thursday, April 10, 2008

thursday

thursday has been a pretty good day. of course there is never a dull moment and new things seem to happen each day. overall, michael had a decent night and today was ok. his cognitive abilities are continuing to improve a lot. his balance seemed to be better too. his vision is still off which is quite frustrating. today he did run a little bit of a fever off and on and felt a little weak. the newest drama is that tonight his head starting to ooze something from where some of the sutures were from his brain surgery. so now we've met a nice doctor from the infectious diseases department. he took a swab and it will be sent of to see was it is. the results could take a couple days which may impact when michael gets to come home. in the meantime they started him on some antibiotics to help fight off any infection it could be. it doesn't hurt him. michael is very anxious to come home so i hope this doesn't discouraged him too much. our oncologist also called me to let me know he is still trying to get in touch with our specialist to confer on further treatments. he actually stopped by tonight around 9:30 (just after i left and michael's dad took over the night shift) just to check on michael too. we hope to hear more from him tomorrow. that's all for tonight. i'm very tired and ready to try and sleep. please pray for michael's vision to clear, his spirits to be up, and the right time to come home. my God is big enough to take care of all of that and more!

love,
jen

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday

hi friends!

good news to report. michael had a good night, without medication and without escaping his bed! yeah! when we got there this morning he greeted us well and told us about both our neurosurgeon and oncologist who had stopped by earlier. wow! we were impressed. this was a much improved michael. he was ready for a regular room. he had all his tubes detached, his catheter out (which may have been his favorite part) ate some breakfast and around 10:30 or so he was in his new room. he saw a physical, occupational and speech therapist today. he is definitely getting better. he will probably have to continue physical therapy and possibly speech therapy once he gets home. his balance is still pretty off, probably because he is still also seeing double. please pray for that! the blood in the brain is near the processing part of the brain which is why he is still having some issues communicating and understanding things. he would like to come home tomorrow, but we'll see what the doctors say. we have not talked to the oncologist yet. he is conferring with our specialist and we hope to hear something tomorrow. all the doctors seem to make their rounds early, so i'll be staying overnight with michael tonight. plus he still really needs to be with someone at all times. though he is in a regular room he is still not up for visitors quite yet. that may change tomorrow after another good night, we'll just have to wait and see. thanks for your continued love and support. we love all your wonderful emails and phone calls. they truly are encouraging. God is good! we want to praise Him through the good and bad. i'm sure there is a lot of each ahead of us and am thankful God will be with us through both! may we all rest in Him tonight!

love,
jen

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday

it's tuesday.

last night michael again tried to get out of bed, even with the restraints. he didn't make it all the way out though before they could get him back in. today overall was a better day. he was more restful and seemed more alert too. he responded pretty well to us, but also still said some confusing things. his vision is still bad too. he is seeing double which makes things seem so strange to him. he is eating better too and some on his own. they got him up today a couple times to sit in a chair. he didn't need any pain medication today either. we left him resting pretty peacefully. tomorrow the physical therapist is suppose to come and evaluate him and it's possible he could be moved to a regular room in the next couple days.

we did get some bad news today. the results from the mri came back and the bleeding has stayed the same, that's the good part. the other good part was that the gamma knife radiation looks to be effective on the bigger tumor in the front of his brain. unfortunately, the two small nodules have grown. we should be in contact with our oncologist tomorrow to see what that means. of course we'll also consult our specialist too.

thanks for your continued love and prayers. they do mean a lot to us and keep us going. we have a long road ahead of us that could go in many directions, but i know my God has paved it with grace and mercy and all that i will need to make it down any path. goodnight for now!

jen colwell

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday

it's me again!
last night was again a little rough for michael. he
actually tired getting out of the bed and fell. they
checked him out thoroughly and did another ct scan to
make sure there wasn't any more damage to his head.
all checked out. yeah! so of course they had to
restrain him again the rest of the night and give him
several doses of pain medication to keep him calm.
today was another small step forward. he was able to
rest some without pain medication! he actually didn't
have any all day from 6:30am till about 9:00 tonight.
he needed a dose tonight to calm down again since he
kept trying to get out of the bed. the anxiousness
seemed to subside a bunch which was great to see.
let's pray that continues. he did talk to us some, but
is still confused. he definitely knows who he is and
who we are, but not real sure what is going on. he
continued to say some random things today too. he
also had some vision problems seeing double (which he
may have had earlier since his eyes were never open
enough to really notice before). he did eat some
today which was good. he even was able to hold a cup
of water and get the straw in his mouth. yeah! we
are celebrating even the smallest accomplishments.
michael also had an mri done today, but we didn't get
the results back yet which i'm assuming is good news
or we would have heard. let's pray it's good news.
he still has a long way to go. i am trusting God will
give me patience as i want things to move so much
quicker. please pray for understanding for michael.
i think it would ease his mind, letting him recover
even faster. selfishly it would make it easier for me
too, as it's so hard to watch him be confused. and
pray for rest too please. it has already seemed like
we've been doing this for at least a week or more and
it's only day three. may God in his infinite power
give us rest even though we never stop to take it. my
God is a big enough for anything and mighty enough to
carry us all! i am so thankful!
love,
jen

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday

hi again!
michael had a rough night saturday night. he was very
confused and they had to restrain him because he kept
trying to get out of the bed. today was a better day.
michael is taking baby steps forward. he was able to
remember the year, his age, etc. he seemed to do to
pretty good answering questions this morning. he
still does say random things and just a couple times
was i not at all able to tell what he said. he is
still confused some and not able to relax without
medication. thankfully the pain medication works
pretty well and he can rest after getting that. it's
pretty obvious when it's wearing off though because he
wants to get out of bed and starts pulling at all the
tubes attached to him. he did get up today and walk
around the room just a tiny bit with some help. they
will just keep monitoring him and we'll go day to day.
please pray that his anxiousness would settle down
and he would be able to relax on his own. it can be
hard to tell how he's doing since he's on so much
medication. thanks for your support and prayers. may
we rely on God's unending love and perfect power. i
know my strength is not enough. it's only through Him
that i can stand at all! i'm praying for an even
better day tomorrow!
love,
jen
say a little prayer for noah too. he started running
a fever tonight. we definitely need to get him better
before he can see michael (which may not be for awhile
since kids aren't allowed in the icu).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back to the hospital this weekend

hi friends!
i'm writing this late after a very long day, but
wanted to let you know what is going on and to ask for
your prayers. michael started getting a headache this
morning around 9:30. he tried to lay down a little
while but it just got worse and worse. he was in a
lot of pain. i called our neurosurgeon office and he
got back in touch within minutes and told us to come
to the er for a ct scan. off we went (michael parents
came in this weekend so grammie stayed with the boys
while papa came with me to the er). by the time we
got there (11:30) michael was in so much pain he could
barely walk. he was able to get some pain medication
that took the edge off, though still really hurting.
they did the ct scan and it showed a couple things,
mostly good news. the tumors that were treated with
the gamma knife looked good and a lot of swelling had
gone down. the scan also showed though that one of
the tiny ones had bled which was probably causing
michael's headache. he was given more pain medication
which seemed to help a lot and he was going to stay
just over night for observation and another ct scan in
the morning to make sure things were stabilized. the
bleeding should take care of itself and simply absorb
into the body. we waited a little longer in the er and
then michael was transferred up to the neuro icu.
michael had fallen asleep in the er and slept until he
was moved (2:30). we waited while they got him in a
room and then were called back. when he woke up in
the neuro icu he was confused and disoriented. he was
not able to answer questions about what year it was,
how old he was, where he was or his doctors name. of
course this was alarming. he was also not able to
communicate well. his words were confused and some
didn't make any sense. the nurse called the
neurosurgeon and he said to just keep monitoring him
and make sure he doesn't get worse. as the day went
on he got a little better and knew where he was and
his doctor's name. he still could not answer
correctly his age or the year. he was also very
agitated most of the day moving a lot and not able to
calm down and relax. finally around 5:30 or so just
before visiting hours were over he calmed down a
little. as papa and i were driving home for dinner
and to see the boys (before heading back for final
visiting hours at 8:00) we got a call and michael had
had a seizure. they were controlling it and he would
be off to get a ct scan to look for any changes. we
got home, picked up grammie and turned right around.
(thanks SO much vicki for watching the boys. they
love you so much!) by the time we got back to the
hospital michael was back in his room. we were able
to stay with him a short while. after having more
pain medication he calmed down and actually fell
asleep. we let briefly while they bathed him and
finally put in a catheter (which could be one of the
reasons why he was so agitated most of the day). we
got to see him one more time around 9:15. he seemed
to be resting pretty good. i'm home now and hoping i
can rest too. we'll head back in the morning for the
first visiting hours around 8:30. i am truly hoping
to see a different michael tomorrow. it was hard
today to see him in so much pain and not being able to
communicate. i thank God for the good nurses he has
had and know He will see us through to the other side
of this! i pray for continued strength and peace as
only He knows what tomorrow holds. my God is good and
faithful! and i will try and find rest in that! i'll
let you know how things progress.
love,
jen
fyi - he's not able to have any visitors right now
except for family. i'll let you know when he's ready
to see some friendly faces. thanks again!

jen colwell

My Parents Roll In




Well, sleep continues to elude me. I thought I might have things going in the right direction with sleeping pills, but they actually don't seem to be doing much. Thursday night I didn't sleep hardly at all. I'll wake up at some hour (1-3am) and then I'm awake. I'll get up and do something or try to lay there but I just can't go back to sleep. Hopefully we can figure something out or get some stronger pills.

Friday was a nice relaxing day as Jen let me get two naps to combat my lack of rest. We did get to take Kaleb by the local health center to have his vision and hearing checked. He did great and passed everything so now Jen can just turn in his paperwork and he will be registered for kindergarten. Again, this is crazy to me that he'll be at school next year. Exciting but crazy.

My parents rolled into town for dinner after their long trek from Louisiana. They are very excited to come see us and spend time with us through this all. It will be a nice weekend trip as they will head back on Monday. The boys were also very excited for them to be here. Noah started playing the "E" game with Papa right away--which means they wrestle together. Kaleb was able to get both to play Wii with him after dinner which he loved.

It is so great to have such a family for Jen and I. It blows me away that God has blessed us as he has with so many people who truly love us and care for us and want to be with us. He is very good.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dancing to "Wake the Neighbors"


Kaleb and Noah have always loved the CD by Stephen Curtis Chapman "Declaration." Here's a video of them dancing to "Wake the Neighbors." They are so funny with their moves. I hope they won't take after me too much with their progress in dancing.

Kaleb visits Kindergarten


Wednesday was a big day for Kaleb. Jen, him, and Noah visited Sawnee Elementary, his kindergarten for next year. It was one of two official Kindergarten round-up days where parents and children visit to enroll. Jen had almost all of the forms ready except that she was surprised about a vision and hearing form. So he's not officially signed-up, but he has everything else ready to go. It is so hard to imagine him actually attending kindergarten in the Fall. Can you believe he will be five and officially at school for the next 17+ years? Definitely moving into a different phase of life. We're excited, and he's excited, but it feels different. Our big boy.

No Diapers



It is official! The Colwell family is out of diapers! Noah has been in underwear for several months now, but we've been keeping a diaper on at night due to the fact that he has been wearing one-piece PJs which would have been tough to take on and off at night. Now that it has warmed up and he's moved into different pajamas he has been wearing big-boy underwear for the past week. He has done amazingly well. He had about three accidents last week, but none of which were too bad. He has done great at waking up at night, using the bathroom, and then going back to bed. It has been quite impressive and it is hard to believe that we've passed the diaper stage. We are all very excited! Go Noah!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A couple of long days

Sleep hasn't been coming quite as well as hoped lately. Monday was a long day as I went into the office and then straight through small group so I was up and about the whole day. Small group was great by the way. I almost feel selfish having such a great group. Everybody is really engaged and it should be a great experience for us. I was reticent not to be the leader of the group since I do work for Groups here at North Point, but obviously with the cancer this is the perfect time to take a break. Mike is doing a great job though and I appreciate how he directs us. Group was really good in that we heard the full stories of our neighbors, Steve and Amy, and I learned a ton I didn't even know before, despite the fact that this is our second small group with them. All I have to say is that we serve an incredible God and he is able to work amazing things through people. It is quite a privilege to be his child and to watch how he works in so many people's lives in so many ways.

Well, like I said, I didn't get to bed until later Monday night and then I woke up at 3:30am with feelings of arthritis type pain in my knees and feet, which happens everyone in a while. Needless to say I didn't fall back asleep and was up at 6:00am Tuesday to head into work. I tried to make it through the day but left at 3:30pm to head home as I had hit the wall. Jen graciously allowed me to nap for an hour which helped. Then I went to bed after American Idol but unfortunately wasn't able to fall asleep until close to midnight. But graciously I did sleep until 6:00am this morning, which I was very grateful for. I'll definitely take what I can get, but hopefully we can keep adding to the sleep hours. Sleep is beautiful!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prayer by the Elders

Today was a special morning for us at church as the elders of North Point Ministries prayed for us. They come together for requests for prayer when a member at North Point has a specific need. They prayed for us back in August of 2006 after the cancer had come back. Now they gathered again to pray for us as it has come back in a new and more intimidating way. It was very moving for us. I believe almost every elder was there and each read something from the Bible to encourage us. As I listened to the verses they read, it was very powerful to think about how much God knows us and loves us. They read about how he made us, how he cares for us, how we can turn our desires to him, and how he can take care of us. It was a great reminder of how powerful and loving God is and very meaningful. Then each of them laid hands on Jen and I and prayed for us. They were prayers of hope, prayers of healing, and prayers of concern for our family. We left feeling very encouraged and very thankful for the incredible body of Christ. We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing God and to be surrounded by so many of his amazing servants. We are indeed blessed and can't wait to see what God will do. May he heal me. May he answer these prayers. But first and foremost, may he be honored and glorified through our situation.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fun Saturday Visit


We had a fun time on Saturday with a visit from the McLaughlin household. Cathy and some of her friends headed down to the beach for a long weekend so Evan was holding down the fort with the kids. He brought Keller, Hynds, and Miller over around 11am and we got to play at the Colwell household. We took turns with the Wii, played outside with the Power Wheels (until it started raining on us) and had a great time together. The kids all did really well and it was great fun to have them with us. Evan also brought over some food for us and Jen and I were able to enjoy some delicious steaks tonight--quite the treat.

After the McLaughlin's were gone I was able to take a great nap and then Jen headed over to Karen Stubbs' house for a massage. Karen had invited the ladies in her small group(s) to come over for an afternoon to have massages and someone generously offered to pay for Jen's. So Jen headed over there, enjoyed a great massage, and then spent time with the other ladies who came over. It seemed like a great break and time well spent for her. The boys and I meanwhile watched "The Land Before Time" and "Toy Story 2" as we were also taking it easy. All in all a great day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sleep


(OK, so this isn't a picture of me sleeping, but it is a cute picture of Kaleb wanting to curl up with Jen as Noah took a nap on her. How can I resist not posting it?) I have had a hard time sleeping ever since I started the steroid that I am on for the brain. Usually the problem is that I will go to sleep, but then I'll wake up sometime between 2-4am and I just can't fall back to sleep. I get up to read a book or watch TV or play Wii, start feeling tired, but simply can't fall back to sleep once I'm in bed. So I just lay there. Finally I decided to call Dr. Weaver (the neurosurgeon) and he's written me a prescription for a sleeping pill. I took one for the first time Thursday night and it worked great. Friday night wasn't quite as good, but better. Overall, though, I'm very excited about working my way back to some good nights of rest. Not sure why I feel so low energy most days, but I'm sure getting back to regular sleeping will help a lot.

Last Will and Testament

Doesn't a will sound like so much fun? It is easy to put one off but really there is absolutely no reason not to have one. So last week I went on
legalzoom.com and filled out a simple one. They were very fast and I had it signed and notarized on Thursday. It feels all official and one step that we definitely needed to take. No worries on it as Jen gets everything (as she more than should), but crazy to actually fill one out. Hopefully we won't need it for a long time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jen's Tuesday update email

Hi Friends!

I hope this finds everyone well after having a great Easter weekend. Ours was nice having my parents and my aunt and uncle in town. Michael did really well on the chemo pills. He didn't have any additional side effects at all. He had to readjust his pill taking times though since he was do take the chemo pill without food and the steroid with food, which meant setting his alarm again to get up in the middle of the night. Since he is now done with his first round of chemo pills hopefully he can adjust again so not to have to get up in the middle of the night.

Yesterday Michael also met with his neurosurgeon. We were hoping to start to get off the steroids since Michael is still having a hard time sleeping, but that didn't happen. The doctor said he needed to stay on his current dosage (3 times a day) until his next MRI. The MRI is scheduled for April 11 and then we'll meet again on April 14 to get the results. Please pray he will start to get some continual sleep. I know this is wearing on his energy level and is very frustrating.

We will head back to the specialist in about three weeks for a simple check up before starting the second round of chemo pills. I've contacted MD Anderson (a highly respected cancer hospital in Houston) to see what needs to be done if we feel we need to go there. They have been helpful. Please pray we would make wise choices concerning all the next steps we take.

We are in a waiting stage right now. We are trying to rely fully on God and wait to see where he leads us next. We know he will show us as long as we are listening! Pray our ears and hearts would be open for whatever comes next.

Thanks for your love!

love,
jen

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday meeting with Dr. Weaver

I met with the neurosurgeon Dr. Weaver on Monday. I was hoping that he would reduce the amount of steroid I'm taking for my head as it does seem to impact me a lot. I don't sleep well, am hungry a lot, have a puffy face (my cheeks look like chipmunks), have some breakouts on my face (just like middle school), my gums have drawn back some, and I sometimes feel like I have arthritis in my joints. All together not too bad (other than the sleep), but it would be nice to be a little more normal. Well, he wasn't convinced that it was time to draw me off of the three pills I take a day, so we'll wait. The good news is that we've scheduled an MRI for April 11 and then a follow-up with my neurosurgeon on the 14th. Those dates were sooner than I thought so I'm excited about getting a quick report on what is going on in my cranium.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Pictures






Here are some happy Easter pictures from the weekend.

Happy, Glorious Easter

Today is the day we celebrate the most amazing event that has ever occurred. Our Savior was resurrected after submitting his life on our behalf. And now we have the life and the intimate relationship with the God of the Universe that is hard to imagine. What a glorious day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Egg hunt


The Brietzkes arrived on Friday to spend Easter weekend with us. Unfortunately we staid up to watch the late Clemson game and were amazed that the Tigers blew an 18 point lead to end up losing. Oh well. I certainly hoped we were going to have a great tournament run, but alas, it is basketball.

Then the Peters arrived for lunch on Saturday. Definitely great to see them and right after lunch the whole crew headed over to the movies to see "Horton Sees a Who". The boys enjoyed it and had a great time.

Then afterwards we had a fun Easter egg hunt outside. The boys had a blast and then enjoyed hiding the eggs outside and then inside for us to find. They had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Halfway there

Well, I've taken three out of the five chemotherapy treatments thus far and it hasn't been bad at all. I didn't sleep very well Wednesday or last night. I was up for several hours, either laying in bed or listening to an audio book on the iPod. But my stomach felt well, which was what they were most concerned about. At least Thursday night I slept good--probably my best night of sleep in a while. So I'm pretty excited I'm almost half-way done. I take the pill at night--three hours after a meal and three hours before I plan to eat again. I'm definitely hungry when I wake up so I take full advantage of breakfast. But overall I'm excited.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Noah playing tennis on Wii

Here is a fun video of Noah playing tennis on the Wii. He did a really good job as he was playing the Wii fitness part.


video

Kaleb's alphabet list

Here is a video of Kaleb organizing a list of toys that matched up with letters. I love this guy so much and how he likes to organize things. Jen and I are so blessed to have him.



video

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It is official. I'm on chemo.

Just took the first chemo pill. We will see what happens.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jen's update email on Tuesday

hi friends!

We had our appointment with the melanoma specialist, Dr. Lawson, at Emory yesterday. We are so thankful they were able to fit us in so quickly. After considering all of Michael’s medical history, his recommendation was to do something systemic (something aimed at treating the whole body). One of the last few things out there as far as treatment is a chemotherapy pill called, Temodar. It is effective in only 5-10% of patients which isn’t great news, but there is always hope he will be part of that small percentage. We have contacted the pharmacy and the pills should be here as early as tomorrow. Michael will take five days of pills, then have three weeks off. We will do two rounds of this and then have scans again to see what kind of affect the pills are having. In between rounds they will also check out Michael’s platelets (making sure they are not too low) as that could be one side effect of this treatment. After the scans we’ll reevaluate and decide from there to either keep doing the same thing or try something different. The only real side effect is nausea. They will give him medication for that too. So we are going to give it a shot! At this point clinical trials aren’t really an option the doctor said because of Michael’s recent brain tumors. He said more often then not patients with recent brain nodules aren’t considered for trials because the risk out weighs the benefit. If Michael’s next brain MRI shows up clean in the next few months, then he may be eligible for some trials at that point. I’ve been in contact with a doctor in Boston who is also a specialist and he agreed that this course of treatment sounded reasonable. Hopefully we’ll get in contact with maybe one more doctor in Houston (MD Anderson) to see if they agree also or have any other ideas.

Michael will also head back to our neurosurgeon on Monday for a follow up to simply see how he’s doing and plan the next MRI. Hopefully he’ll get to talk about when he can get off the steroids as they seem to be having a few annoying side effects (upset stomach, not sleeping as well, retaining a little water), but nothing too serious.

I’ll let you know how the pills go. We will be praying for minimal side effects and great effectiveness. Please pray also that we would continue to find the best options for Michael. As we feel we have been hit pretty hard with the latest news, we are confident that we will only come out stronger on the other side as long as we let God lead us. We are having to lean on Him more and more and rest in His perfect peace as we continue to battle this aggressive disease. Thanks for all your love!

love,
jen

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beginning Chemotherapy

I called Dr. Lawson's office this morning and they were fortunately able to fit me in. They called at 9:30am and wanted me to be down at Emory at 10:30am. Well, the PET scan CD was back at the house so I drove up there to pick it up, grabbed Jen on the way back and we made it down there by 11:15am. It was a long visit, but they did get around to us.

We were hoping for a magic bullet answer, but unfortunately that didn't happen. His main observation was that because of what happened in my brain, I was not recommended for most clinical trials. His advice was to start chemotherapy now, so I'll begin that as soon as I can get the drugs. It should be fairly easy. I'll take a temodar pill for five days in a row and then be off for three weeks. Then we'll do it again next month. The plan then is to have an MRI and PET scan done in three months and revaluate.

So at least we have a plan for now that we are going to push forward with. We are less than satisfied but hopefully will be contacting some other doctors soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Smallest ice cream cones ever seen

Kaleb has asked for an ice cream cone for desert the past few days, so when we were in Kroger we picked up some kids cones. When we opened the box, we were amazed at how small they were. They looked like they had been made for toys or something. But our boys favorite part is the cone, so we gave them two each and they went to town. It is always fun to watch them eat their desert!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A great visit


Today we had a great visit from some very good college friends of ours. Mark Anthony (Columbia), Scott Stevens (Greenville), and Matt Beres drove down to see us today. It was very kind of them to come down and just hang out for the day. They simply wanted to be with us and do their best to encourage us. I must say there are few things better in this world than great, long-lasting friendships. We played some Wii and watched Clemson amazingly defeat Duke to go to the ACC conference final (beating them with free-throws!). Bring on UNC for the third time tomorrow! Should be a great game.

We are so overwhelmed with such kindness that people continue to show us. We greatly appreciate everyone who is praying for us and has offered so many things for us. Thank you so kindly.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jen's update email on Friday

Hi Friends!
I write today with a heavier heart. As we've taken great steps forward in treating the nodules in Michael's brain in hopes of success, today we took several backwards after getting the scan results. The scans revealed four new nodules. He has two in his liver, one behind his kidney and one in the bone of his upper arm. The one in his left lung has grown (though only one showed up instead of two?) and the one in his right lung grew minimally possibly still suggesting that is not cancerous. Regardless, we are now dealing with multiple nodules in various places.

Our oncologist has already put in a call to Dr. Lawson, a melanoma specialist at Emory, who we have seen once before when getting a second opinion. We have also called his office and left a message to get an appointment as soon as possible. In our oncologists opinion there are no more "standardized" treatments to help Michael. He thinks michael's best option is to try and find a clinical trial to be a part of. Of course we will get Dr. Lawson's opinion and see what his knowledge is about the clinical trials going on right now around the country and I any would hopefully benefit Michael. After speaking to him we'll then decide if we need to go visit other melanoma specialists. So it's wait and see right now until we get our appointment with Dr. Lawson. We are sad with this news, but know it all rests in God's hands. He knew what was going to happen today and has already paved the road we need to follow in the upcoming days and weeks. We know He will hold us even closer as times get a little more stressful and complicated. He will never let us go and we are going to hold on tight! Thanks for continuing to pray. He can hear you and we can feel you!

love,
jen

Not good news


Well, my visit to my oncologist, Dr. Steis, did not go well. The PET scan results were not good. I've included a picture of me from the CD they gave me. Not only do I still have a tumor in my left lung (1.6 cm), I now have two tumors in my liver (one of them is 2.3 cm), one behind my kidney (2.3 cm), and a small tumor inside the bone of my left arm. Obviously this is the news that I was not hoping to hear. So far it has always seemed like I have something, now let's take it out. Now, however, it seems like things have gone to the next level. I'm definately more concerned now--now that the cancer is so rapidly spreading, and spreading to so many different places--that I'm in a different situation.

Dr. Steis basically told me that I'm done with him right now. He recommended that I go see Dr. David Lawson down at Emory. I saw Dr. Lawsom about a year-and-a-half ago. His specialty is melanoma so obviously he would be the best person to talk to now. We'll discuss what clinical trials are going on and what treatments are available. Dr. Steis doesn't believe it is wise to go after each tumor individually, but to find a treatment that will hopefully hit my whole body. I'm also going to start trying to contact other doctors around the country to see what other options are available. I've got a few names I can call or schedule appointments with. We just need to figure out what is next. I'm definately saddened by the news and beginning to realize just how limited my days might be.

Thanks to everyone who reads this, makes comments, and prays for me. I sincerely appreciate all that you do for us. Our God is so big. He can heal me. I pray that he will.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gamma knife in the books

Yes! I have been waiting for the gamma knife procedure on the three tumors in my head to be done and apparently all went well. They screwed the headplate on me, took an MRI, planned the procedure and sent me in. Basically all three tumors looked the same as they had, so I was very excited about the fact that they had not grown. Then they put me in what looked like an MRI machine. They would lay me down on the table and then screw my headpiece in to a different angle. They would send me inside where there were individual pistions that would fire at the right time. Each session would last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Then they would bring me back out after each one, make adjustments to the angles and then send me back in. They did this about 15 times but it wasn't bad at all. The treatment part took about 3 hours and then they let me rest for a few minutes afterward and then let me go. All in all it went very well.

Next I go see Dr. Weaver in two weeks to check up, schedule an MRI in 6 weeks, and then I will go see Dr. Cline. Hopefully everything will show that God was able to knock these out. I'm very excited and looking forward to moving to the lungs.

Gamma knife radiation

Today is the morning for the gamma knife radiation on the tumors in my head. We left our house at 5am and headed down here at St. Josephs. It took us a little while to find the right place but we made it here in time for our 6:15 appointment. They put an IV in me and some relaxing drugs before screwing a faceplate on my head. I'm assuming it makes me look tough, so watch out. Then they moved me over to have a full MRI on my head. Now Dr. Weaver and Dr. Cline will be planning the procedure over the next couple of hours and then we'll push forward with it. We are certainly praying that all will be amazingly successful.

Monday, March 10, 2008

PET scan today

I have a PET scan today down at Northside to check on my body. Hopefully all will go well. I'm definitely praying that there are still only the two tumors in my lungs and three in my head. And hopefully they have neither grown or changed much. Can't wait to see what is there and then we'll schedule the radiation on my lungs after the gamma knife on my head tomorrow.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Time with the family


Saturday was a fun day with the Jernigans. It was pretty crazy because it snowed for part of the day. Not something we were quite expecting, knowing how nice it had been the week before. But the weather called for it and sure enough it came down. Noah was hoping it would stick so that we could go sledding but unfortunately the ground was too warm. It was a very relaxing day as we all hung out. Jen and Erin went over to Vickery to have their nails and toes done and enjoyed the experience. Clay and I hung out with the kids and fun playing with them. It was great just to be together.

Dancing Kids

One of Noah's favorite things to do is to play music out of our DVD player and then run around the couch dancing. It is quite fun to watch him do it and to run with him and Kaleb as they do laps. Since Eliana was down they got her in the mix and had a fun time running around. The song (hard to hear) is "Happy Day!" Enjoy.



video

Friday, March 7, 2008

Jernigan Visit


On Friday the Jernigans rolled into town. Erin, Clay, Eliana, and baby boy came down to see us. It was great to have them around as we are always together with other family. The boys loved having Eliana here and she definately enjoyed all the new toys.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kid's creativity


I'm really quite amazed at the creativity of kids. Kaleb and Noah have been into Lincoln Logs as of late that Aunt Sylvia and Uncle John gave them for Christmas. And really, they are quite impressive with them. Wednesday morning Kaleb made a house all by himself. He was up playing downstairs, found the little map, and built his own house. I was quite impressed. The other item he has been working on is K'nex. He'll look at one on the little maps that they have and sit there and make it. I know I spent hours and hours playing with the old Legos back in the day. It is great to watch the problem solving process work for the little man.

New computer

Ahh, the day has come. After three great years with my early laptop I was upgraded this week. Now I have a new MacBook with the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor. And in addition to this I inheritred Evan's old widescreen monitor so I come in and get to view two sweet cinema displays. Life is sweet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dentist

Kaleb had his first visit to the dentist today and it went really well. They took him in the back while Jen waited up front. They did let her sneak back once to take a peek to see him. At that time he had some sunglasses on because the light was bright. They cleaned his teeth and gave him a flouride treatment. They also tried to do an x-ray but he was too wiggly. Overall no cavities but some plaque. Kaleb then was able to pick two pretty big dinosaurs out of a treasure box. He definately liked that part and is ready to go back.

Noah comes to visit the office

Today is a big day for Kaleb as he visited the dentist for the first time today. We have been putting off for a while but we received a great recommendation from Libby, so Jen took him at 10:00am this morning for his first appointment. As she did she dropped off Noah who was very excited about hanging out with me in the office. He started out by grabbing just about every ball from Al's office and took them down to an empty office down the hall. We threw them around for awhile and then explored around. Then, for some reason, we have a Leapfrog little table hanging around that he played with. It was definitely fun having him around and he did a really good job.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Latest update


michael is continuing to recover well! yeah! he's feeling almost normal again. he hasn't been getting a lot of sleep this past week as he's had to have medicine every six hours which means setting the alarm for midnight and 6:00am to stay on schedule. that's changed as of today and he'll only have to take it every eight hours now, so here's hoping for some really restful sleep for him. and it's never easy to rest too much with a three and four year old constantly at your side wanting to spend every minute with you since they are so glad to have daddy back at home. it is sweet though!

michael went back to work two half days last week. yes, i know that sounds crazy, but he was ready! he's one amazingly strong guy! he went back in today for his first full day back. he's a bit tired tonight, but overall doing great!

this will be another week to recover as we then get started back up next week. he'll go in for scans on monday, the 10th. our oncologist wants to make sure there aren't any other surprises before we continue with treatment (especially on the lungs). we'll get those results hopefully at the end of next week. On tuesday, the 11th, michael will have the gamma knife radiation on the other three nodules in his head. Our neurosurgeon thinks we can get them all in one shot.

we'll be down at st. joseph's hospital at 6:00am on tuesday morning and hopefully leave in the early afternoon to come home with everything being done. So basically, scans monday, brain radiation tuesday and scan results friday. after getting the scan results we'll plan what's next.

another change is that i will not have to give Michael shots anymore. we are excited about the not having to do them, but we are stopping since they don't seem to be effective (considering all his recent nodules appeared while on the shots) which is a little discouraging. so at this point we don't have any more proactive medicines/treatments we can be doing to fight this. thank goodness we know who is in control of ALL of this and that lets me rest at night. my God is strong and through His strength we will walk each day trusting in Him completely! thanks always for your love and prayers!

love,
jen

Nice weekend

We had a nice, quiet weekend at the Colwell household. Great weather let us go outside and enjoy some sunny weather. Kaleb was especially brave, wanting to ride his bike with training wheels around the driveway. He is definitely getting more used to it so we'll see how quickly he picks up on it. Most of the time they spent driving around in their power wheels, visiting each other's "house." By Sunday, though, they were starting to get on each other's nerves (and my nerves). I'm looking forward to a return to a very normal start to the week.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sutures out

I was able to go see Dr. Weaver to have a couple of staples taken out and to have the sutures removed in the morning. So hopefully now my scar in the back doesn't look quite like it did. Then Jen used the shearers to clean up the back of my head some. So I'm getting back to normal with my head. My neck is still sore and tense but it isn't very bad at all. Each day it is closer and closer to normal. I'm very grateful.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Moving Forward

Jen and I had an appointment with Dr. Steis, my oncologist this afternoon. It turns out that we will push forward with gamma knife radiation down at St. Josheph's for the next step. This will be on 3/11 and hopefully will just take half a day. Then we will have a full body PET scan, CT scan, and MRI on my brain to make sure we have everything under control. Then I will meet with Dr. Steis again on 3/24 and we'll go over the results. At that point I'll go back to Dr. Schwaibold down at Piedmont and remove the two tumors in my lungs. I'm not terribly excited that we are going to wait until April until that happens. I'd rather them come out now, but the ones in the brain are more important and it would be best to have another full scan before I go through the radiation in my lungs. The other aspect we talked about is that I'm going to stop taking they Leukine shots. I've been on these since 7/06--when the tumor showed up under my skin in my abdomen. Now that I've discovered six new tumors in the span of a few months I think we can say that the Leukine shots (which are still in clinical trials for melanoma), aren't quite as effective as we had hoped. As well, the liquid version of Leukine is being called back by the FDA. Unfortunately there aren't many treatments available for melanoma, so it appears that we will continue taking out these tumors, having scans, and then seeing if we need to go to something else. I've been ready for a long time to stop taking the shots. They aren't bad, just a constant reminder that I have this disease. But it does feel like I should be doing something. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hanging at home


Today was a good day at home. I stayed around with Jen and the kids and tried to be as helpful as possible. It was good for Jen as she was able to get the house back in order and the many things she had been putting off for the past week. It was great to be with the kids but they are definately energy intensive. So I rolled into bed almost after they went down. One funny thing is how Noah doesn't like my cool scar in the back. He'll ask me a couple of times a day if it is still there. He's ready for it to go away, but quickly forgets about it and heads on to the next thing. I did make an appointment to go see a nurse at Dr. Warren's office to have the sutures taken out on Friday morning at 10am. Hopefully that should be pretty easy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Visitors


We had some great visitors come see us Sunday night. Several friends from back in the Clemson days rolled down to see us. Thomas Marquis (Greenville), Ryan Allred (Rock Hill), Kevin Krick (Columbia), Rob Allen (Greenville), and Clint Pollard (Marietta) came over to our house. It was great to see these guys after a long time and great to have their company. I was very appreciative of the fact that they chopped off a day to come see me and always grateful for the incredible people who have come to my side during this. Thanks so much.

As well, a great friend of ours, Mark Anthony, had some very kind words to say about us Sunday morning at his church in Columbia, SC. He asked his church to pray for us with an incredible heart. You can listen to it here.