Merry Christmas and an Update from Neil

I hope this finds everyone enjoying their Christmas time with family, watching the children/grandchildren tear open presents, and eating the traditional family dinners.

I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say that Alyssa and I feel your prayers of comfort, peace and healing. As I sit here beside her at Northside hospital, it strikes me yet again how courageous Alyssa is. As some of you know during her last High Dose Chemo and ensuing Stem cell transplant I was basically quarantined due to getting a cold, and thus unable to experience firsthand this particular challenging stage of our journey. However, being by her side this week I am yet again amazed at the strength of her body and her spirit. It is very emotionally draining seeing the amazing person I love endure this treatment, but it has also opened my eyes to the beauty within and has been a great lesson for me to live, love, play and enjoy life more purposefully.

Now allow me to brag on my girl a little. We know she certainly deserves it, and you have all read her postings so you know her perspective. Here are some additional insights into this particular mountain of our journey from the navigators chair.

On Tuesday, the 1st day of chemo, a highly experienced nurse who works solely in the High Dose Chemo wing of hospital (typically where the Leukemia patients are treated) was “too nervous” to setup Alyssa’s chemo IV bags. It takes several IV Pumps to hookup the numerous IV bags of chemo and other fluids (11 bags to be exact), so a supervisor had to come in to assist. Basically the complexity of Alyssa’s regiment is so extreme that it is apparently atypical for even them………the exact words uttered were, “I need help, I’ve never hung this much chemo on a patient before.”

Despite these utterances, Alyssa was not deterred as she immediately went out and used the Treadmill for an hour. Yes, it is just ingrained in her being. Another hospital employee in environmental services named Desiree, whom we have grown fond of, admitted she was looking forward to Alyssa’s arrival and had specially cleaned the dust off of the treadmill for her. Desiree joked that Alyssa is about the only patient who has used the treadmill in 6 months, so it needed some spring cleaning…….apparently another patient has started using it a little now after seeing Alyssa go.

Alyssa continues to respond with great strength and stamina with each additional bag of chemo hung, which is continuous 24 hours/day for four days straight. Her eyelids get so heavy that she can hardly keep them open, but she is still in a semi-lucid state. The doctor was kind of laughing this morning due to the fact that she was actually alert and walking to the bathroom. Recall that 1 out of every 2 patients going through this regiment have some form of encephalopathy (coma-like state) at which point chemo treatments are immediately stopped. This means her ability to endure the entire 4 days of treatment only solidifies her success. We both feel like it is a divine blessing that her body is responding perfectly to this treatment and thanks to the many, many prayers.

In summary, she is having a successful Christmas day here at Northside and I am extremely proud of her. Alyssa continues to prevail and we know soon the Doctors will be able to confirm what we already know to be true, that she is perfectly and permanently healed. I told her the other day that she has a bright, bold and beautiful future and I look forward to tagging along as she tells Oprah and the rest of the world her story through writing! We also are planning our travels for 2009 and have some fun stuff to look forward to.

My intention of providing the above details is not to solicit empathy from you, but to give you the perspective of a firsthand witness and illustrate the context from which Alyssa is writing her courageous postings.

I would be remiss to not reiterate how grateful we are to have such loving friends and family as well as a massive team of prayer warriors assembled on our behalf…..we are humbled beyond words.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families.

Much love,

Neil

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