David Helm's Journal
Three Years Later
Written Feb 25, 2014 9:47pm
Today marks three years since we started this journey with cancer. I tried to think of something monumental to share here, but I can only say, “Thank you, Lord, for bringing us through these past three years.”
My last post on caring bridge was nine months ago. I started the post with “no news is good news.” This post could be a carbon copy of that. We have had nine months of “no new news” on the cancer front. David has sailed along in the sea of maintenance with no stormy waters to speak of. Last June he spent a fun week in Georgia with his grandparents and they ended up with his only fever of maintenance so far. They had to take him to the ER for blood work up. It turned out just to be a one night fever with no infections to be found and he was in and out. In fact,the very next day they headed to Six Flags. After his Make-A-Wish trip he became a roller coaster fanatic.
Summer is always fun around here. We swim and ride bikes and enjoy being outside (something we haven’t done much of this arctic winter). Last summer was no different. David even got to take Jonathan to Camp Coco for a week in July. Camp Coco is a week-long camp for kids in central Illinois battling cancer and other diseases. They had a great time!
Once summer wound down, we got into the busy school year. Fall is crazy with high school swimming,football, me coaching, homeschooling, and the anticipation of the holidays. David increased his love of football and went to several of his big brother, Daniel’s, football games. The boys just about destroyed the front yard playing so much football in the grass. Once the weather turned cold, we brought football into the living room. Steve always vowed we’d never have a formal room in our house. Even with an almost antique, golden couch and a piano in the room, it doesn’t stop the boys from having an intense game of football. 2013 wrapped up with some fabulous holidays and another trip to Orlando.
Trip toOrlando? Let’s just say we put A LOT of miles on our Suburban. Daniel was playing in a high school All-American game in Orlando and then heading to his new home at the University of Tennessee, so we all wanted to be together as much as possible. We drove from Springfield, IL to Atlanta, GA in one day. We spent the night at the grandparents, and then we all piled in for the trek from GA to Orlando in one day. We visited Give Kids the World and had free ice cream. David gave his grandparents and our good friends, Rigg and Jeanne White, a tour of GKTW, and we all enjoyed mini golf,the arcade, and the Candy Land playground all just days before the Village closed for a two week extreme makeover. It is sure a fun place to go back to. After visiting the Village we spent a very cold night watching a very boring football game (by no fault of Daniel’s). The following day we piled back into the cars for the venture to Knoxville, TN.
In one day we moved Daniel into his dorm, said our goodbyes, and made it home to Springfield after one of the worst storms of the decade hit Illinois. We passed the 200,000 mile mark on theSuburban and everyone made it to their destinations in one piece.
Once again,“Thank you, Lord!”
It may not seem that monumental, but we are so grateful that Jesus has calmed the storms of 2011. We can look back and see His hand in so many ways. We are only six months away from David’s treatment being finished. Thank you, Lord. He has grown so much, they have increased his chemo doses. Tomorrow David will have the first of his last two spinals. The end of this journey is so close that we can almost smell the shore. Please continue to pray with us that these last six months will be more smooth waters. We want to dock the boat and hoist David up to the cancer-free land, never to embark on the sea of cancer again.
Written May 25, 2013 9:26pm
They say that no news is good news, and that is true of us. Since my last post we have had a great time. The highlight of it all was David's Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World. The only thing that could have made it better was if it was longer. It was the most wonderful time ever. We left a snow storm that was dumping 18 inches in Springfield, drove to St. Louis during the storm, played all evening at a hotel, then got up at 4AM to catch a flight to Orlando. I've never seen six kids be so willing to wake up at 4am. We didn't get the typical limo ride since the roads were so bad. The driver had to trade his limo in for a shuttle bus. Our flight left as scheduled, miraculously, and we got into sunny Orlando.
I cannot even begin to explain how amazing the week was. I would have to write a book. So, I will just mention some bullet points. Give Kids the World, the village we stayed at, is a fantastic place. The mission there is solely to take care of Wish kids. Everyone is treated like a prince or princess, waited on hand and foot by volunteers, and spoiled rotten. There's enough fun there to stay all week long. However, we managed to do the Magic Kingdom, LEGOLAND, Sea World, both Universal parks, and the Magic Kingdom again, in addition to hitting some highlight events and activities at Give Kids the World. David got presents in our villa every morning. We ate great food in the most magical setting. We swam, played mini-golf, met lots of characters, went to a Halloween party, a Christmas party, and a pool party. We even spent $40 on those spinning light toys at Disney (something I would not normally do). We were worn out every single night, but it sure was fun. What a blessing to have this trip after such a long, hard road of treatment. And what a blessing to have David feeling so well. We are so grateful to Make-a-Wish, Give Kids the World, and all the fabulous volunteers that make it all happen. I hope someday that we can be on the giving end of all of this.
After our trip, April arrived, and April is our birthday month. Four kids age up including the twins. Jonathan and David celebrated their sixth birthdays. Birthdays are blessings and even though we celebrate four in four days, it's like a tornado that dissipates into a rainbow. Everyone loves rainbows.
Our every-four-weeks of treatments have been moving along smoothly. David did get sick in March and we had to postpone his spinal a week, but everything else has been great. No fevers, no hospital stays, no problems. YAY!!! This past week David had a few days of stomach problems which culminated in a mad dash to the toilet. I think it reminded him of his first several months of treatment. He vomited about 30 seconds after getting his night time meds, but it was nice to just have him sleep in our bed, check him a few times in the night, and call the Dr. in the morning. Lest you think I am completely cool with everything, I must admit that even something minor like this leaves me a little more worried than I would have ever been before David's diagnosis. I have a little bit of neurosis but it just reminds me to trust the One who is in control, the One who loves us with the love I spoke of in my last post, the One who knows every hair on David's head, every tear I've cried, and every worried thought I think.
Our pool is now open (although the weather is not cooperating with our great desire to swim and soak up sun). School is over for the two big kids (Daniel and Sarah). Summer schedules start next week. We are blessed. Thanks for blessing us with your continued prayers. May we continue on this road of "no news is good news."
Two Years Later
Written Feb 24, 2013 10:00pm
Two years into treatment. Ten months into maintenance. Seventeen months of treatment left. We are over half way through David's treatment plan. I can remember vividly talking with the more seasoned moms at the clinic in those first weeks of treatment. They all said that it would get easier. I would give them my best smile and try to act like I believed them. I did believe them. They had walked my path almost exactly, so I had every reason to believe them. Still, I felt like that easier path was so far off. Now, I can rejoice in how the time has seemed to fly by. Two full years of this. Wow! People don't even know David is a cancer patient. I get many more asking if Jonathan and David are twins. Some people have started having a little trouble telling them apart. These are all things I have longed for. Thank you, Lord.
I was reading a caring bridge post of someone I have followed but don't even know. This particular mom wrote that she has decided in all of this that God has no control over it. No one can understand how a loving God can allow a child to suffer with a disease like cancer. I get that. But she has the wrong perspective. We are all tainted by sin. This world is stained by sin in a big way. That's not God's fault. So often we want to blame God for these things, but they should remind us of how loving God is because He has given us a way out. He's given us freedom from the shackles of sin. He's given us Life, eternal life, the chance to be with Him forever when this vapor of a life is over. Cancer is ugly to us. Sin is ugly to God. As much as I want my child to be free from cancer, God wants us all free from the death that comes from sin. (Romans 6:23) I will beg, and pleed, and pray, and work to find a cure for my child's cancer. Jesus has already bled, and died, and sacrificed to give me a cure for sin. Do you think I love my son?... Kind of a dumb question. Do you think God loves us even when cancer strikes?.... Kind of a dumb question. I've asked a lot of dumb questions on this journey. I thank God that His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulnees to me. He can weather any of our dumb questions. For me, He has proved Himself faithful over and over again. His faithfulness doesn't always mean physical healing. We rejoice that He has granted that to David. But often times His faithfulness comes in finding joy and peace in who God is and not in what He allows my circumstances to be or not be. AFter two years on this particular journey I feel as if I'm just scratching the surface of what God is trying to teach me. I pray He finds me faithful.
Thank you again for walking this journey with us and for praying for David. He is doing so well. He's getting regular haircuts, growing out of his clothes, learning so much, and having fun just being a little boy. In exactly one month we will be on our way to the Magic Kingdom for his Make-a-Wish trip. We are all so excited! Please pray for continued good health for the entire family, but especially for David.