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Leland’s Story

Lee injured his back on July 20, 2012 and has been working with a Chiropractor, Family Dr., and an Occupational Dr.  We had an MRI on July 31 which showed a bulging disc in L5.  We went back for a follow up appointment Aug 3rd and were told to go directly to an ER.  Lee was pale, had numbness in his feet and into his face and left hand.  The ER did a blood tests and more scans.  The blood draw revealed his platlets were at 14,000 and a normal counts are in the 150,000 range.  We have been admitted to the Oncology unit and have begun the treatments for accute Leukemia. 

February 20, 2013 Lee had a successful unrelated 9/10 match at University of Washington.  With less than 10% gvhd we went home with nothing more than new marrow and a small viral skin rash.  By May 31, 2013 we were home and in remission. 

September 19, 2013 we found leukemia had returned.  Lee's blood counts became low for two weeks and were our first sign of bad news.  7 months of peace and now we are back in the fight of our lives, starting at square one. 

October 2013 we started a trial treatment which made our skin fall off and made us have help breathing....but we achieved remission.  Dec 15, 2013 we took a Donor Lymphocyte Infusion (DLI) in hopes to stave off cancer to the one year mark (Feb 2014) to get into a 2nd bone marrow transplant. 

January 2014 cancer returned for the third and final time.  We returned home for our final family moments and Lee went to rest in Heaven January 28, 2014. 

(written at the onset of cancer) Lee turned 36 in June 2012.  We have been married 3 years and have known each other 4.  He went to school at Rogers High School and served in the Army.  He served overseas in Kuwait and El Salvador before 9/11.  After serving in the military he came home to his family and started working for the City of Spokane.  He has been with the City for 10 plus years and is a Crew Leader of a Wastewater Construction Team.  He has a lot of pride in his work and of his crew.  This year he tested first on the District Supervisor Test and the Inspector Test--he was beyond elated. 

Lee enjoys raquet ball and the occassional beer and wings with his buddies, fishing, mountain biking, hunting but his main time is with his baby girl Leah.  They do everything together.  Lee is the type of Father who is apart of each task..hair, clothes, bath time, bed time, reading, school, and Leah loves to play with him.  "Chase me Dada" is one of her favorite sayings.  We love to take trips to the park, camp and fish together.  Froyo is also a favorite family night out...(frozen yogurt).   Last year we went to Yellowstone and this year we camped at Porqupine Bay. 

Lee has 3 brothers, Perry, Robbie, and Chad.  They are the closest set of brothers I have ever seen.  They kid and slap and get together on every holiday and birthday.  Lee also has three sisters, Tiffany, Julie & Jenny.  These three ladies are also really close with Lee and he is very soft towards his sisters.  We have attended Church at Lifecenter since we were married and this is where Leah was Dedicated.  Lee is a gentle soul and the type of person whom everyone likes to be around.  He enjoys gardening and taking care of the yard.  His dog is a little 11 pound yorkie named Bella, and they are quite the pair.  

I have to say, Lee has prepared our family well for alot of things-structure, finances, and routines.  We have health insurance, a good home, we don't live outside our means and thanks to Lee have food stocked and minimal bills.  He is a financial savy person and has always guided us to be smart and prepared.  I think he worries about medical bills, but he is getting the care he needs and that is the number one priority.   Lastly I will say, ...Lee is my best friend in the entire world.  He has been an incredible husband from day one.  I love that he prays with me & Leah...bedtime, dinner time, anytime. 

He prepared us all for this journey. 

Latest Journal Update

Kids say the darndest.......

Leah is hands down my heart and soul.  I try to focus on her through good times and bad, but lately she’s been puncturing my heart.  The time she takes to think about her Daddy, the words she uses and the sincerity of her tone make me sad. 

Sad. Sad. Sad.  Below are a few direct quotes that seem to come out of nowhere. 

“Mama, are you going to get another daddy for me?”

“Mama, does daddy want to come back?”

“I want to get sick to see Daddy…..and you can get sick too,…and Bella….and our house”

“I want the time back when Daddy was here, I want it to start over….our time…when he was here”

(at a restaurant looking over the room) “Those tables have daddy’s”

“I want daddy to go UP and come back DOWN, UP and then DOWN” (from Heaven, elevator like)

“I want my daddy to be here like Charlotte’s daddy is here”

My favorite was when she was talking to another Mommy at Church and they were discussing how heavy kids are to carry, Leah announced,“My dad was handsome, and I was never too heavy for him”.

She’s right.  She was never too heavy to carry.  He never turned her down for a dance or snuggle. She misses him so dearly, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix it. 

I can tell her that Heaven is the most amazing place, that daddy is healthy and safe, that he can’t come back….that he stayed as long as he could for us, but …it doesn’t make it better.   

I also feel extremely guilty. She wants a daddy and I am in no shape to even try.  I don’t know why she has ramped up the words this month, but its hitting her really hard. I feel like I'm buckling down for the Holiday’s and to slap these words on top of it seems to crush me as well. 

Roller skating last night we met two little girls who were doing laps with us.  It’s fun when I see little kids gravitate towards Bug. After two laps one of the girls hung back with me and said, “she told me about her dad…is it true?”  My instant reaction was a blank stare and a stomach crunch.  I asked her what she said and she replied,“she said her dad died of cancer”….I nod my head yes slowly and ask the little girl where her parents were….she points and I head in that direction. 

I approach a very large father with tattooed sleeves standing skateless in the corner.  I stop and tell him how grateful I am for his kids skating with us and quickly tell him what happened.  I apologize for bombarding his kids with such a heavy topic and explain we usually hang out with people who know our story.   His response kind of shocks me.  He was really calm and said that he is honest with his kids and that it’s no problem.  Relief washed over me.  I’m doing the best not to ruin my kid, and in the process don’t want to hurt others. 

I head back to skate with the girls and start to relax a bit.  When the speed skating starts all of us ladies scoot to a bench to watch.  As soon as we sit our little friends start in with questions…”are you going to get married again?”…..”I think you should”….”did you keep your ring?”….”where is it?”…..

I went from 4 year old questions to 7 year old questions and felt like I was getting pushed by the elementary parade.  I smile and try to answer all of the machinegun questions…and it makes me smile. Kids are so sweet and innocent. They pry in places where you can’t help but let them.  It’s easier for me to open up with kids.

Some where between skating and leaving the dad tells me he went to school with Lee.  He recalls how nice he was and tells me about how they grew up together.  I try not to cry, but am comforted by how nicely he spoke of Lee. 

I know our story is bigger than us.  I know Leah will grow up loved and comforted by who God puts in our life.  I know all these things are happening for a reason, but sometimes, …like right now, it's a lot to process. 

Much love,

Mrs. Me


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1 Comment

Sue Arthur
By Sue Arthur
I think of you often, Rebekah. I can't imagine how difficult it is for you, losing a wonderful man like Lee. This year of "first" has to be horrific! This time of year being one of the worse. It has to get better with time, though I know that you have heard that a lot, and you can't imagine it getting better....I also understand that I have no idea what it is like for you.
I wish that there was something that I could say that would make you feel better, but there are no words for that. You are loved and respected by so many people and I pray that it will become easier for you and Leah in the future. <3
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