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A Feeling of Deja Vu

Fall is upon us. Cooler sunrises and sunsets. Night fires in the fire pits, hoodies, warm cocoa, or for the most of you, “pumpkin spice everything” is in the air. 
But in our home the smell of fresh picked grapes, blueberries and peppers have been in abundance...yes I have been canning jelly. Although we hardly eat it, I just give it away. And yes, I know store bought jelly is not expensive, but I love to make it. 
It reminds me of when I was a kid and watching my Mama make it. It gives me a longing for when times were much simpler. I think when we sense a familiar smell, place or song on the radio, we instantly feel comforted by days gone by.
We are transported back in time to childhood, when our world was just a few streets wide, when our main concern was running out of daylight before making it home for dinner. Nostalgia has a way of erasing the daily annoyances we experience such as- jobs, finances and health and it leaves behind only the warm, fuzzy feelings.
So you see, I’m not just making jelly, I am erasing the day and living in the simpler times. Just waiting for the “ping” of jars, it brings a smile to my face and a sense of deja vu. 

Speaking of deja vu, Gray had an appointment today with his orthopedic dr. Dr. Klifto. The reason I said “deja vu” is because this is where it all began...the culprit, his shoulder. 
He was scheduled for his 3rd round of injections...but he did not receive them. Upon talking with Dr. Klifto about his shoulder pain, the Doc recommends an MRI. 
And we trust him completely, and honestly, if it wasn’t for him Gray may not be here today. He originally did an MRI on Gray’s shoulder in 2018, and found the lesion that lead to the findings of his Multiple Myeloma. 
As Dr. Klifto said when walking in our room, “hey y’all are like my family!”
So much so that he whipped his phone out and said, “My wife just had twin daughters, and they also have a 3 year old daughter, and proceeded to show us his 3 beautiful daughters pictures.”  

So we travel back to Duke on October 15th to the Adult Bone Marrow Clinic for labs, immunization shots,  a consultation and an MRI. 
Then on the 16th, back to Dr. Klifto to get the MRI results. 

And yes, Dr. Klifto will be receiving a few jars of homemade jelly. 

Remind yourself that every day has its hardships and its bright spots. No matter how old you are, and no matter how bad things seem, you will probably look back on today with some nostalgia. Think about what you will be nostalgic about, and focus on that today, what you will remember as being important, meaningful, and fun 5, 10, 15 years from now. If it is making jelly, then make jelly. 

God bless and Thank you. 

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
~ Lao Tzu

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Just a Thought

Earlier today, while I was rocking and drinking my sweet tea, ( yes, it is a southern comfort ), I looked down and really took noticed of the word Courage on my bracelet that I received after Gray’s stem cell transplant; 9 months ago. 
If you look courage up in the dictionary, this is what you will find...
1. The ability to do something that frightens one.
2. Strength in the face of pain or grief.

But my definition of courage is, just doing what you have to do; just putting one foot in front of the other and plowing through.
I really don’t know how or where I draw my strength from. But each day it shows up, some day’s may be a little stronger than others. On my weak day’s, I just sit and think. Think about what I’ve/ we’ve been through. 
In the past two weeks the word remission taught me a lot more than you would ever know. Yes it means the signs of cancer have disappeared... but, it could still be in your body. 
It just never leaves your mind. It is there, a constant reminder, a what if and always when. 
You would think remission would give you a peace, a comfort...and to a big degree it does. But it doesn’t take away the destruction that it left in its wake. The upheaval it caused in your life. The negative and fearful thoughts that swoop in and crowd your mind. 
This is where being courageous comes in. You have to dig deep to get past the negativity, so you can be stronger than your fears, stronger than your thoughts...in other words, push yourself. 
To each and every one of us, please remember, we have so much to offer this world. Just let go of the worries and fears and decide to make this YOUR time. The reality is we have nothing to lose except for the negative thoughts that chain us down. 
So make the decision to be courageous. Get up in the morning with a determined mindset to make this time, this second chance, the best it can be. 

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you’ve imagined.”
~ Henry David Thoreau 

C -  Certainly 

O - Optimistic and 

U - Unconditionally 

R - Resilient to 

A - Acceptance and 

G - Grateful 

E - Everyday 


Complete Remission

When I awoke this morning, I didn’t know what today would hold. God or bad news. 
But I’m sure by now all of you have heard the good news, Gray is in remission...complete remission! 
I do believe Cancer is one of the hardest battles to fight in every way imaginable. 
I believe it breaks one down so that others can be brought up—so that they learn to be happy with all that is going right in their lives. It is a huge reality check. 
It works this way my friends: think of the worst times in your life, your sorrows, your losses, your sadness—and then remember that here you are, that you made it through the worst times of your life, you got through the trauma, you got through the trial, you endured the hardships, you’re making your way out of the dark. Remember the bad things, then look to see where you are now.
Cancer, even though I wasn’t the one “with” it, taught me something a lot of people take years to figure out— gratitude.
So, tell him or her how you really feel, take your dream trip, or spend every Sunday in your pajamas. Stuff your face with potato chips, sing with your god awful voice, or watch The Golden Girls all day, ( that’s my go to show, to make me feel better..lol ). Dance crazily, party ’til the sun comes up, and kiss like there is no tomorrow. Maybe just sit quietly and watch the beautiful sunset over the ocean.
Do what you’ve been dreaming of doing. Enjoy every moment. And follow your heart completely.
And do it all while you still have the chance. 

Thank you all for everything. For listening to me vent, wiping my eyes when I cried, laughing with me as I endured the famous steroids...for being there throughout the good and bad days. 
I started the Caring Bridge Page to be able to inform you of Gray’s prognosis...but it became so much more. It became my outlet, my sanity, my therapy. 
But what a wonderful way to end it...with a complete remission. 
Yes our God is good. 

God bless and Thank you. 

“God will fight your battles if you just keep still. He is able to carry you through. Trust Him. Keep standing, keep believing and keep hoping.”
~Germany Kent


The Results

Well the deed was done and the results are in. 

They were not what we were hoping for. 
Even Melissa, Dr. Gasparetto’s NP, said, “I wish I had better news to give you.”
Gray’s IgA value is still elevated and his IgM value is low. 
A video visit has been scheduled for June 30th for a meeting with Dr. Gasparetto to discuss what is next...and I have been requested to be present. 

So our friends, please continue to keep Gray and his family in your prayers. These next 12 days are going to be mentally tough, the mind can make you think “stinkin thinkin.” 
I believe God weakens us so that we may lean on Him. God doesn’t give us flowers and candy every day. Sometimes, there are thorns in our candy. We can swallow it whole, and hope we survive… or take it to our Father. God doesn’t make us suffer for the heck of it. He brings hardships so that we can see our need for Him.

And if you see me and I’m smiling, just know that it is a mask, because my heart is hurting, my mind is racing and my shoulders are weak. 

God bless and Thank you. 

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
~Isaiah 12:2


June 17, 2020

My day and deeds at Duke are done.
And now we wait.
Which is an excellent time to say "Thank You" to everyone for their support and encouragement as Judy and I have walked this path. I can't even imagine going thru as much as we have without knowing we had the prayers and caring and loving hearts of far too many to name on our side; and every one made a difference.
It's now in the good and gracious hands of the Lord -- just as it always actually has been.
"Thy Will Be Done." 👍🙏
Thank you all.
- GB


Thinking in Grey

Black and white thinking is our tendency to look at the world in terms of all or nothing. We either find things to be good or bad, beautiful or ugly, easy or hard, happy or sad. We don’t acknowledge all the grey areas in life. The things we can’t fit into a box. Life’s mysteries. Unknowns. The stuff that’s difficult to put into words.
Instead, black and white thinking is the illusion that we have all the answers to life when we really don’t. And when we focus on this type of thinking, it can actually cause a lot of unnecessary problems in our life.
Black and white thinking doesn’t open us up to the possibility, that even if life doesn’t work out the way we think it should, we can still find happiness. 

Post SCT Results 

Thanks to a good friend, we were able to escape to our “magical place” for a few days of beach therapy...and it was much needed. 
For you see, much to our regret, we cannot say if Gray’s Multiple Myeloma is in remission or not. 
During the myeloma labs, they check  different antibodies, (antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight bacteria, viruses, and toxins).
The antibodies or immunoglobulins they check for are: immunoglobulin G (IgG), immunoglobulin A (IgA), and immunoglobulin M (IgM). In multiple myeloma, when the cancer protein level is up, the normal antibody levels are down. And Gray’s showed an isolated increase in the IgA immunoglobulin. Dr. Gasparetto is concerned that it may be related to the Multiple Myeloma, so mid-June Gray will have his labs redone. Until then, he is to continue with the Revlimid maintenance regimen. 
But I’m trying not to think in black and white, but in grey. Because the levels of IgA also get higher in some autoimmune diseases. 
So what do I pray for? Another disease or that his Multiple Myeloma is not in remission? 
Jesus take the wheel, because I’m about to wreck. 

Black and white thinking comes with the assumption that we always know where to draw lines in the sand. But the truth is we don’t. Sometimes new information and new experiences tell us we need to adjust those lines we draw. And without this open-mindedness, we will always be trapped within those same weaknesses. 
We need to start thinking in grey; which is don’t form an opinion about an important matter until you’ve heard all the important facts and arguments. 
Which is also much easier said than done. 

God bless and Thank you. 

“Most of life is grey, with a little tiny bit of black and white.”
~ Bill Henson 


A little update

Thank each and everyone of you, for your thoughtfulness and prayers today and throughout this whole process. 
Today was indeed a long day. We started at 8:00am and ended at 2:35pm. There were a few technical issues with the PET/CT Scan... and some blood clotting issues, ( in the vials) that required the Dr. to try 3 different times for the bone biopsy. Just life throwing a few more tests at us...but Gray pulled through like a champ, and myself...well nerves took over and I got a 2.5 mile walk in...lol. 
Now we wait. The results we were told, will take 2 to 3 day’s to come back. 
I promise, good or bad...you will know. 
But we are now back home; coffee in our hands and sitting on our porch. 
And for the moment, life is good. 


Realities of Life

Funny how life is. 
Only one slightly different sequence of events, and everything could be so different, in anyone’s life. That makes you think doesn’t it? Sometimes too much, I suppose. But that is exactly the beauty of life. And all the more reason to remember that God has a plan for all of us. To a certain extent, we’re just along for the ride. So I guess we better hang on. 
And when our familiar ways of life changes because of uncontrollable situations, we begin to view the world differently. And this past month or so, everyone has had to make some life changing adjustments.
The effect, the result, of our needing to adjust, changes us in many ways...it has made us think. So giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether this virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years, and we all tend to take our health for granted, our jobs, our way of life—until it’s gone. And when changes do come, it’s easy for us to slip back into our familiar pattern of what if’s. “What if it doesn’t work out? What if God doesn’t answer my prayer?” Our need to know the outcome takes over. We come face to face with the unknown, and we panic. We tend to forget that God’s promises never change; Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So always remember, God is in total control. 


As I post this, we are currently in Durham. Tomorrow is the day. The day of Multiple Myeloma labs, the day of the post transplant bone biopsy, the day of a full body PET/ CT Scan... the day to find out if Gray is in total remission or not. 
And probably a sleepless night. 
But there have also been a few of those lately. Along with short tempers, moments that are too quiet, days spent sleeping, nights spent wandering around the house and a lot of what if’s being thought. 
For now, Gray is currently on his 2nd round of the chemo pill, Revlimid, for his maintenance regimen. There have been no physical side effects, but I guess you could say there have been some mental side effects. The thought of putting a chemotherapy pill in your body for the rest of your life, can make you have stressful thoughts. Especially when you feel as bad now as before the SCT. 
His appetite has been much like our weather, up and down...he’s holding on around the 185-190 mark. 
His Meniere’s has still been an issue. And sadly there is nothing that can be done, but hope that time will help it to level out. 
The bone pain is still there...in his shoulders down to his elbows, his back and pelvis. The scans should help clear up any questions to why he has so much pain. 
I’ve done my best to keep him well and so far he hasn’t been sick...so that’s a plus! I’ve insisted that he stay home, and let me do the errands...I wear masks, gloves, sanitize everything...the rest is in the Lords hands. 
Please keep Gray in your prayers as he endures theses tests...and pray that he will have peace as he waits for the results. 

At the end of the day life is not a matter of being in the right place, in the right time or even doing the right thing to fufill a specific goal or reach certain milestones. It comes down to doing what you can, where you are, with what you have. And sometimes you have to realize that despite the fact that the outcome may not be what you hope, or even the total opposite of what you wanted, you did just that and there was nothing more that could have been done to prevent what could have been, should have been or what will be and simply accept what is. Because afterall, what screws us up most in life is our expectations, life events, life changes and yourself of how it is supposed to be. The best part of it all is that, by the grace of God, we wake up with a fresh start every morning. We have a new chance, to accomplish the things we wish we would have done. We have a new chance, to not say those comments we wish we wouldn't have said. We have a new chance, to tell our loved ones that we do love them.  
Don’t carry any regrets or opportunities missed from the day prior, into a new day.
Every single day we face new decisions, new opportunities and new situations... but some things time can't touch, so enjoy every moment of every day 
I don’t pray for healing. It could happen this side of Heaven or the other side. Instead I pray for guidance, strength, and to be able to enjoy every single moment we have. 

God bless and Thank you.

“No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle  dismay, no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength; and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.”
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox