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September
11
2021

September 10, 2021

Hello everyone,

I know it's been a while. There honestly hasn't been much to report. We have just been plugging away. After Jennifer resumed her chemo treatments, everything has gone fairly smoothly. Aside from some increasing exhaustion, cold sensitivity, "chemo brain," and some slight nausea, her side effects have been minimal. There are 2 to 3 days after disconnecting from the pump where she feels bad. We think this is because of dehydration so please pray that she can stay hydrated after treatments.

I took her to her chemo treatment on Wednesday and, after labs, they postponed her treatment a week because her white blood cells were too low. This is pretty common for people on chemo. To treat this, she will begin receiving bone marrow growth factor injections which I will give her on the days that I disconnect her from the pump. This can cause bone pain, but they said taking Claritan will help with the pain. Since her white blood cells are so low right now, she is at an increased risk of infection so please pray that she would not develop an infection or be exposed to any illnesses. Her next treatment is scheduled for September 15th. The next appointment with the oncologist is September 24th. She has 4 more treatments left, so she should be done by November.

The kids have resumed homeschool, and Jennifer forges ahead with it with great rigor. Norah is taking some online classes and has been helping out a lot around the house. She's also meeting online with our pastor in Fort Worth to discuss baptism every other week. Liam is growing into a strong young man, and Livy is just as sweet as always. Both have a tremendous hunger for learning. Liam had a birthday (9) in August, and Livy has a birthday (7) coming up in a couple weeks just after mine. We have posted some pictures for everyone.

I have been plugging away at work. Since my position is somewhat transient, and I have been spending quite a bit of time at home, I have given a lot of my attention to preparing to apply for operatorship with Chick-fil-A. This means I've been doing a lot of reading on leadership and meeting with Chick-fil-A leadership to try to develop an operator's mindset. These are exciting times for the Leonhart household.

We are excited to announce that we have found a townhome in Fort Worth. We hope to move back to Fort Worth by October 7th, and we can't wait to be reunited with all our friends and family up there. There will be some sorrow in the move, however, because we have made some truly amazing friends down here during our time in the Houston area. Our plan is to just commute to MD Anderson for any remaining treatments, scans, and appointments, although most of the oncologist appointments can be done virtually from home.  

Please continue to pray for complete healing and thank you to everyone who continues to pray for us. You are such a blessing. May the Lord keep you and guide you in all His ways.

 

Sincerely,

Billy & Jennifer

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July
18
2021

July 18, 2021

Friends and family,

We hope you've all had a wonderful couple of weeks. We apologize for the delay in updating you. We've had a less eventful couple weeks than usual. Obviously, that's a positive, so thank the Lord for that.

Jennifer did resume her chemo treatments this week. Whereas she was previously taking a pill for her chemo treatment, she is now using a pump to receive the same drugs. What this means is that, for the next four months, she will be receiving an infusion once every two weeks. For three days after the infusion, she will be receiving chemo drugs through a pump she wears in a fanny pack for three more days. Once the pump is disconnected, she will have a week and a half off of the chemo until her next treatment.

The side effects are much lighter on the pump than they were on the pill. The plan is that Jennifer will be on chemo until November, and the hope is that this round of chemo will prevent the cancer from coming back. Please continue to lift her up in prayer for that.

For me, this has all meant that I get to sharpen up on my medical skills (I was a medic with the U.S. Army for 8 years). While I was tasked with administering a shot of blood thinner once a day for Jennifer for a few weeks after her surgery, now I get to be the one to disconnect the pump every other Wednesday. I'm glad I already have experience with this stuff, because it would be weird to have to learn it for the first time under these circumstances.

The kids are doing great. For the past couple days, they have been in Flower Mound, TX., at their Aunt T's (Traci) house. I dropped them off with Traci in Mansfield on Friday, and Jennifer and I have spent the last couple days just the two of us together. Their Aunt Elsie also came down to spend the weekend with them, so Norah got the opportunity to hang out with her cool aunts for the weekend. Last night, we even had a chance to eat and play games with our host family. They taught us how to play parcheesi (Jennifer won!). I've posted some pictures for you all, and we'll be meeting Traci halfway to pick them up this afternoon.

For our prayer warriors, here are some prayer requests..

  • Please pray for Jennifer's continued chemo treatments. She does still struggle some occasional nausea and exhaustion.
  • Pray for the children, that we would be diligent to raise them well, and that they would each come to have saving faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for me as I seek to provide for our family and make wise decisions about our present and our future.
  • Pray that our love for one another as a family would grow through this experience.

We are so grateful for all of your kindnesses, and especially your prayer. May the Lord bless you immensely from His limitless storehouses, and may your week be filled with joy in the shadow of the cross of Christ. We love you all.

To God alone be all glory, honor, and praise!

Billy & Jennifer Leonhart

July
5
2021

July 5, 2021

Hello friends and family!

I hope you all had a great July 4th weekend! Billy has been doing a great job of updating my CaringBridge site for me, but we thought everyone might want to hear an update from me occasionally. I don’t do much writing/journaling etc. so I’m a little out of practice. 

It has been 4 weeks since my surgery and I am recovering quite well. I have a little redness and soreness at the top of my incision, but it is all healing really well. Thank you all for your prayers!  

My family is taking great care of me. Billy has been giving me a daily injection to prevent blood clots which ends today! I am so glad he can do stuff like that, because I hate needles, even small ones and even after everything else I’ve gone through. There’s no way I could do it myself, so that’s one more reason I have to be thankful for him! I have had to be careful not to bend over, push, pull, or lift anything, which has been quite a challenge, especially with 3 children who leave everything on the floor! Thankfully, they are so sweet that if they see me trying to do something I am not supposed to, they tell me immediately to stop and they do it for me. In the next few weeks, I can gradually start doing more activity. 

I don’t think I have had to cook a meal since the surgery. While recovering, we have had meals provided by the Ballard House, family, DeLeon friends, The First Baptist Church in DeLeon, and from Grace Covenant Baptist Church in Willis. I am so thankful for all of our friends and family who provide for us everything we need! 

Saturday was my birthday. I’ve honestly never been more grateful to be another year older. Earlier in the day, I opened presents from Billy and the kids and we ate cake. That evening, me and Billy went out to eat at Texas de Brazil for the first time. His employer in Keller had given him a gift card there last Christmas and we finally used it. I’m still not able to eat much at each meal, but it was still great! Our host family was kind enough to offer to watch our kids for us. Last night, we enjoyed watching our neighbors shoot fireworks.

Last Monday I had an appointment with my oncologist. He said that since I am recovering so well, he wants me to start chemo again as soon as possible. So I start chemo treatments again on July 12th. Honestly, I am really not looking forward to it. I would rather have another surgery than to deal with the side effects of chemo. However, the doctor and pharmacist were reassuring that the side effects should be milder this time and that they could control the nausea with different medications and steroids. I have my prescriptions for that already. I will be going in for infusions every other Monday for 4 months (or however long my body can handle it). This time instead of the oral chemo, they will install a pump that I will go home with and wear for 3 days (no showering during that time). Then Billy will get to unhook me from the pump and flush my port for me at home. They will train him how to do this on Wednesday, July 14th. 

I asked the oncologist about my chances of the cancer coming back. It’s still a 75% chance. I don’t know why I thought it would’ve changed. He seemed much more optimistic and hopeful than he was before, though. At my initial consultation he was more serious and would hardly look me in the eye. This time was very different, for sure. He was smiling, patted me on the back and said we just needed to hope and pray. It made me feel better.

Thanks again for all your prayers. Here are some things to put on your list.

Praises:
• God continues to provide for us: housing, food, clothing, and everything we need to live.
• I am feeling better this week than I have in a long time.
• MD Anderson is now letting one person accompany each patient during appointments!
 
Prayer Requests:
• Chemo treatments will be effective in killing any remaining cancer in me.
• My body will be able to endure the chemo through all 4 months of treatment.
• The cancer would not return.
• Wisdom in decisions regarding the children’s schooling.

June
26
2021

June 26, 2021

Hello all!

Let me start with an apology. I do my best to try to keep you all up-to-date. However, the past couple weeks were trying.

I don't know if anyone can ever truly master the art of living out of suitcases. That is essentially what we did the past three weeks. For a week and a half, we stayed at The Ballard House. Then, for just over one more week, we were in DeLeon staying with Jennifer's dad.

As you are aware, if you've been following our updates, Jennifer had surgery to remove the tumors from her liver the Tuesday before last. Then, she recovered for one week in hospital. Then, she recovered another handful of days at The Ballard House before we drove six hours to Jen's dad's house to stay a week.

We may have stayed a full week at The Ballard House if it hadn't been for the kids developing a bad cough due to something in the air there. We think there was something in the AC system in our room that didn't sit well in our kids' lungs. Anyway, we decided they would only get worse if we stayed there any longer, so we packed up and made the trip to DeLeon.

When we arrived in DeLeon, Jen was having chest pain. I was convinced that it was stress induced, because she was worried about the kids and the long drive. However, we made an impromptu trip to the ER, and it was revealed to be more related to pain. The doctor said she was not taking her pain meds frequently enough, which resulted in her not breathing deeply enough. After getting her pain meds under control, she has not had any further respiratory issues.

The following week was spent resting and healing from surgery. We're now back in Willis, and trying to get settled back in. We have a follow up appointment with the oncologist on Monday at MD Anderson, and I will return to work on Tuesday if the Lord wills it so.

Things to pray about..

1. Pray that the cancer would be completely gone, that it would not come back, for Jen's continued healing and health through the forthcoming chemo.

2. Pray that all three of our children would be accepted into the school where we've applied, and that we can afford it (we still owe over $10,000).

3. Pray that we would have clarity on where we will live and how we will afford it. Housing prices are up (both for renters and for buyers, and we can't afford to be either at this point). Were it not for the extraordinary generosity of our host family, we would be homeless right now.

4. Pray for Jennifer to find a flexible and rewarding job (preferably something she can do from home) in the Fall when the kids start school.

5. Pray about additional expenses that will inevitably arise (e.g. we have dentist appointments due for all of the family, the laptop has stopped working, the van needs to be serviced, etc.).

6. Pray that the Lord would help us to be diligent to work hard to accomplish the things He has given us to do, and that He would keep us from stressing over the things we can't control.

Thanks again for your continued prayer. May the grace of God be with you all in abundance.

Sincerely,
Billy & Jennifer

June
15
2021

June 14, 2021

Good evening friends,

Let me start by offering a heartfelt thank you to each of you who have kept us in your prayers throughout this entire journey. I know I say it a lot, but prayer is our most dire need. If we are to receive anything good, it will originate in the heavenly storehouses of Him who owns all things. God does not need the prayers of the saints to accomplish His mighty works. Nonetheless, He has ordained that He will work through our prayers the same. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Today, we had a follow-up appointment with Jennifer's surgeon at MD Anderson. She shared with us the results of the tests that were done on Jennifer's tumors. We haven't been officially declared "cancer-free," but the tumors are all extracted now, and any cancer that may still be in there will hopefully be killed off with the chemo therapy Jen will start in a few weeks. Of course, she still has to heal for six weeks past the surgery date before starting chemo again.

We're still staying at The Ballard House. The room is quite small. We have two full-sized beds, so one of us has to sleep on a workout pad on the floor. Last night was my turn. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, but I wouldn't want to make a habit of it. We won't make Jennifer sleep down there.

Jen is still healing up. She has a lot of soreness in her abdomen, and she will have trouble getting around for a while. She can't lift anything more than 5lbs or even bend over, for fear of a potential hernia. She has a scar from below her belly button that extends up to her sternum (the connecting bone in the middle of the ribcage). We'll spare you that photo. However, attached is a photo from the day after Jennifer was returned to us.

The kids are doing well, but they can't wait to go and see their Poppy (Jennifer's dad) later this week. It seems to be all they can think about or talk about. Jen has been cleared for the trip. We just have a few loose ends to tie up, and then later this week we'll be on our way.

We thought it might be helpful to provide a list of needs, so that people can know how to be praying and how you might potentially help:

  • Most important is continued prayer for Jennifer's complete healing and the wisdom of the doctors.
  • Second, pray that Norah would be accepted into the private school to which we've applied. She's currently on a short waiting list. Providentially, our younger two children have applied for classes that have no waiting lists.
  • Pray for my continued diligence in growing myself professionally in the career path I'm pursuing.
  • Pray that the Lord would provide us with the financial means to afford housing and utilities in the Willis / Huntsville area while Jennifer continues to seek treatment at MD Anderson. Renting costs more a month than buying, so we'd prefer to buy something small, but we don't currently have money for a down payment.
  • Finally, pray that (whether through the GoFundMe or some other means) we would be able pay the remainder of the kids' tuition for the upcoming school year (at this point, it's over $10,000).

Perhaps the most beneficial thing you might consider doing outside of prayer is widely and often to share the link to our GoFundMe through text, e-mail, and wherever you have a presence on social media.

The Lord is good and has always provided for our needs, and we know that He will do so now. Thank you all again for your prayers in this time, and thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far with your gifts and talents. You are truly a blessing from the Lord. May He be with you all through the next week.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Billy & Jennifer

June
9
2021

June 9, 2021

Hello everyone,

I'm very sorry for the incredibly late update this week. I hope all has been well with you all. I'm not going to lie. This week has been quite hard for the Leonhart family.

Last week, Jennifer had a colonoscopy, and we packed up the whole family to head to The Ballard House in Katy, TX. If you are not familiar with The Ballard House, I definitely recommend that you check out their website. They are an incredible ministry.

Anyway, we packed up two weeks worth of belongings and headed here so that we would have a place to stay while Jennifer is recuperating from her surgery. Then, on Monday, Jennifer had a series of pre-op appointments (blood tests, follow ups with doctors, etc.). We left at 6:30am to drop her off at 7:30am. The first appointment was over fairly quick, so we came back to pick her up. We decided to spend the morning with her and do whatever she wanted. Jen's wanted to get glasses for the past few months, so we went to a place that had a 1 hour turn around time, and she picked out some frames. Then, we took her back to MD Anderson and headed back to The Ballard House.

Then, we ate lunch and went shopping for some much needed items. After just 30 minutes of down time, we were back on the road to go and pick up Jennifer from her appointments at MD Anderson. On the way home, we stopped to get her glasses. In talking with the surgeon, Jennifer mentioned that our plan was to be here only while she was in the hospital and then head to DeLeon where she would recover for another week at her dad's house. The surgeon insisted that she remain in the Houston area for at least one more week in case anything were to go wrong, so we spoke with the staff at The Ballard House, and they extended our stay by a week.

After all that, yesterday was even more eventful. First, we woke up very early in order to drop Jennifer off at 5:15am at MD Anderson for her surgery. We prayed for her and hugged her, and then headed for Willis. We went and got donuts for my coworkers (Chick-fil-A), and then we stopped in to eat breakfast in the newly reopened dining room. Meanwhile, back at MD Anderson, Jennifer's surgery began around 7:40am.

Second, we ran by the cottage to grab some stuff that we had forgotten when we packed up and left for The Ballard House. Then, I dropped off the kids with some friends in Willis and headed for Huntsville. Last week, we had toured a private school in Conroe. Yesterday, I scheduled to tour a different private school in Huntsville while Jennifer was in surgery (we would have toured it together, but they were closed all last week). The tour went great, and we may have found the school we want our kids to attend in the Fall. The tuition is low, and there are even options for financial assistance. With that and the funds that have been coming in through the GoFundMe, we think we may have figured out where we want our kids to go to school, and where we may live come the Fall.

Third, I went to pick up the kids in Willis, and we headed back to The Ballard House 1.5 hours away in Katy. Needless to say, we did a lot of traveling yesterday. The whole time, I was fielding calls from MD Anderson keeping me updated on the progress of Jennifer's surgery and calls from concerned friends and family.

It wasn't until around 3pm yesterday that Jennifer finally emerged from surgery. It was successful. They extracted all four tumors from her liver, and they were even able to do so without removing her gallbladder. She's been pretty groggy ever since, and they've had her on a lot of pain meds. Other than that, the doctors and nurses all report a lot of progress in the recovery. They are staying on her about doing her breathing treatments and getting up and around. She is on a liquid diet for now, but I'm sure that will change as she needs less and less pain meds.

Between toys, games, books, and screen time, the kids are all doing well. They keep begging me to take them to a public pool somewhere. I'm considering it, but now I'm busy with trying to get paperwork for school all figured out, and I'm trying to get caught up on rest at the same time. Seems every time we're in the common areas at The Ballard House, I wind up getting caught up in a long conversation with a cancer patient or his / her loved ones. Last night, I even had an opportunity to share the gospel with a group of men on the back porch while we ate some grilled meat and veggies together.

Please pray for Jennifer's continued recover, for our wisdom in finding a school and a home, and for the Lord to continue to provide. Also, I would ask that you prayerfully consider giving to our GoFundMe (if you haven't already), and that you pray for our contentment in whatever the Lord wills for us. Thanks again for all of your prayers. We know that the will of God will be accomplished, and that He works out His will through the prayers of His saints. May He bless you and keep you.

Sincerely,
Billy Leonhart

May
30
2021

May 29, 2021

Good evening to all our friends and family,

Happy Memorial Day weekend. We hope you all have a relaxing weekend as we all take time to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom. May we never take our hard-won liberties for granted!

First off, I wanted to let everyone know that our GoFundMe has now been posted. You can find the link here.

This week, we don't have a lot of updates. Our trip to Fort Worth went really well. The funeral went really well. The music was well chosen, and we were very edified by the preaching of the gospel. We were grateful to see a lot of our friends and church family there, and our family stayed with the family of Jennifer's bestie. Jennifer was very happy about that.

We got back last night and went straight to a family fish fry with the extended family of one of the pastors here in the Willis / Conroe area. The food was great, and the kids loved playing on the playground equipment on the family's property. All-in-all, it was a lot of driving, but it was surprisingly relaxing.

This morning, I attended a men's breakfast before work, which was a nice break from the norm. Then, my mom and her husband came into town and, after I got off work, they took us to Freddy's in Huntsville. It was a real blessing to spend time with them today.

Please keep Jennifer in prayer for her colonoscopy on Wednesday and her liver surgery next Tuesday. Pray that God would guide the hands and the minds of all the medical professionals, and that Jennifer would have a speedy recovery. Pray also for Jennifer's complete healing, and that the cancer (once removed) would not return. Thank you all again for your prayers and your encouragement. We love you all and can't tell you how much your love means to us. May the Lord be with you all in the week to come.

With love,
Billy and Jennifer Leonhart

May
24
2021

May 23, 2021

Happy Lord's Day, friends!

Sorry for the late post. Yesterday, while at work, I got to thinking about how busy life has been lately. I'm still doing schedules for my Operator in Fort Worth, working in operations for my Operator here, and juggling family life. Also, Jen has started getting the kids back on their homeschool schedule. I wound up texting her asking if she could find childcare for the kids. So, last night, we went on our first date in a long time while some local friends watched the kids. The food was great, and so was the service, but the company at the table was unbeatable. I love my wife.

Many of you have asked about the kids. The kids are still being kids. For the most part they are getting their chores and schoolwork done and are still able to have plenty of time for reading the stuff they want to read and still play. Poor Liam has been asking a lot to play board games, for which we haven't had a lot of time, but we're hoping to make time for that pretty soon.

We did receive some pretty upsetting news this week when it was reported to us from our church in Fort Worth that a dear friend has gone to be with the Lord after her long battle with cancer. Please pray for her devoted husband Jeff. He is one of the most selfless, kind, and sensitive people I know. I have already gotten off work for the memorial service, and we plan to attend later this week.

Some of you may be wondering about the Go Fund Me I mentioned a few weeks back. Out of respect for our friend, Jen and I have decided to postpone it and ask--if you feel led to do so--that you consider giving to the Go Fund Me established to help Jeff through this time. It is only about 1/3 of the way toward the goal:
 
 
On the cancer front, there really isn't a lot to report this week. We now have a date for the surgery: June 8. Jennifer will be in the hospital for about a week, and then we will head to DeLeon where she can hopefully recover at her dad's house for about another week. Jennifer does have to go back to MD Anderson next week for another colonoscopy to see if there is anything else that the surgeons need to remove while they have her in the operating room. So, in short, that will be a trip to Fort Worth and later a trip to Houston all in about a week. Please pray that we take sufficient time for family and that I'm able to get all my work done in all of this.

Jennifer also talked with the geneticist who did her genetic testing. The results showed no gene mutations, indicating that the cancer is not genetically inherited. When speaking with the geneticist and telling her about the surgery, she told Jennifer that she was very pleased to hear the news, because not many people qualify for the surgery Jennifer is having. Praise God, Jennifer qualified!

Finally, Jennifer has pointed out that we should probably be posting more pictures with these updates. I agree, and we will. Just not this week (Haha!). We love you all, and we miss so many of you. Please feel free to reach out. Just understand that we may be too busy to respond right away. My hope is that, in the week to come, the Lord strengthens you all and provides you with all necessary knowledge, wisdom, and understanding for the road on which He has you. May He bless your way.
 
In faith and love,
Billy & Jennifer