Journal

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Happy Sunday,

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe.  We prepared for "the storm" which wasn't quite what they had predicted, but didn't make travel easy either.  We will be blessed with family and friends arriving to celebrate Matt today and tomorrow, so I am continuing to pray for uneventful weather.  It has been two weeks since Matt left the kids and I and entered into eternal life.  The past ten days have been filled with paperwork, appointments, paperwork, appointments and then some more of the same.  Although many of these things have been difficult, they have been somewhat distracting.  As I have stated before, nights are the roughest for me.  I yearn to hear his loud booming voice, his infectious laugh and the touch of his hand.

We have received so many messages from God and from Matt too.  I will probably share many of these as I transition from Caring Bridge to a blog.  One I would like to share happened before Matt passed away.  The Friday night before Matt left our earth a prayer vigil was held outside our house. I did not go out but have seen pictures and it was truly an amazing site.  People of all ages, faith, backgrounds coming together to share prayer and comfort with one another.  Shortly after the vigil was complete, Matt was surrounded by the kids and Adam, our pastor.  He sat up and said "I am going to be fine."  You have to understand that Matt was in and out of sleeping, he never fully fell into that deep sleep they prepare you for, but he was so fatigued.  He at this point was out of energy to sit up on his own, drink or eat.  However, he was able to sit up on his own, speak words that have become the most comforting to our family, and then simply lay back down to where he had started.  This was so powerful to us all, it was confirmation that Matt would be okay when he could let go the body that was in so much pain for a brand new body in heaven.  He is fine now, he is wonderful!

The pain for us is not having Matt here with us physically.  We want so badly to hear his voice, touch his face and hug him tightly.  I am sure this pain will lesson but our need to have him physically near us will remain until we see him again.

The kids and I are preparing for Matt's Celebration of Life tomorrow.  Life has been so busy with things that are important but not important when you are talking about life.  I know that tomorrow will be both beautiful and difficult.  I know that Matt will be there with all of us, I know he will be in awe of the impact he had on those around him while walking on earth.  Like I have said before, he has left the greatest gift to our kids, his legacy.  Please continue to pray for us as we celebrate Matt tomorrow and for the days that will follow.  I know I am struggling with our service tomorrow because it kinda feels like we are closing the chapter on Matt Fouch.  However, I try to remind myself that we are only starting the chapter and Matt will be leading the way along side of God.

Love to all,
Team Fouch

Faith Over Fear Forever
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Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
The holidays went by so quickly, the return to school and the "normal" routine are upon us.  Matt has been walking in Heaven for one week, which feels like an eternity in my heart.  I first started counting by hours, then days and now it has been an entire week since he left a void here on earth for many of us.  The nights are the worst part of my days and when I seem to melt into pieces.  My rocks have been the kids.  Maddie has wiped away my tears and reminded me Matt is in our hearts.  Jake has tried to take on so much more responsibility, patience and understanding with his siblings and I.  Z keeps checking on me and I have found him curled up to me in the mornings.  I keep reminding myself that I am supposed to be their rock and strength.  Our family has been so supportive, our friends and community members continue to flood us with love and memories.  The kids have a wonderful gift in seeing the impact their dad had on so many people.  I hope Matt is looking down and smiling and finally seeing the good he did around him while he was alive.  
Next week, Monday, January 13, 2020, we will celebrate Matt.  Matt was not one to pull attention to himself, he was a pretty humble guy.  However, next week's celebration will do just that, celebrate who he was and will continue to be to us.  I am sure he will be watching the National Championship with Jimmy Gerkin and many others that are walking with him above.  
I have had many people comment about my strength.  I am really not all that strong, in fact I feel weak.  However, I have a very strong God that continues to get me through the rough moments.  As I grieve he continues to remind me of my many blessings and to believe in his plan.  When I grow angry, he calms my heart.  When I am anxious, he sends a message that gives me peace.  So I guess what looks like my strength is actually my faith leading me on this journey.  
After next Monday, I will continue to write, as it is therapy for me.  I will be moving from Caring Bridge to some sort of blog.  Not only will this help me through our journey without Matt, but it will help my children on their journey without their dad here on earth.

Faith Over Fear,
Jill

#TeamFouch
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/matt-fouch-obituary?pid=194891985

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Dear Family and Friends,
I hope you are all making memories to last a lifetime.  Our family is trying hard to process Matt's physical presence not being here and trying to find glory in the fact he is pain free and has eternal life.  I would lie if I said we didn't feel a huge void, grief and an immense amount of sadness.  We will continue to navigate through this new journey, like before, it is a marathon and not a sprint.

I wanted to share some information about Matt's Celebration of Life Service.  We will hold this celebration on Monday, January 13, 2020 at Calvary Church.  We will hold a visitation from 4:30-5:30 pm at Calvary and begin Matt's service at 6:00 pm.  Directly following the service we invite you to stay for a tailgate honoring Matt, complete with the first half of the National Championship game on the big screens!  Matt's wish for a tailgate couldn't be more perfect!
Love to all,
Team Fouch
Faith Over Fear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
Matt took his final breath today after a courageously played game versus cancer. Although he took his final breath here on earth, we know he has earned the ultimate victory and is walking with Jesus before he stands before God.  The kids and I will feel the physical loss every moment of our days but we will also feel his continuous presence in our hearts non-stop.  Continue to pray for us as we continue to navigate our emotional, physical and spiritual feelings that are so natural when a person you love so much is called home.  We will post our plans to celebrate Matt in the near future.
We love you all,
Jill, Jacob, Maddie and Z

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."-Psalm 34:18

Good Evening,
Matt has neared his eternal victory and is closer to walking with Jesus.  His body has grown tired and he is transitioning and preparing to go to a place far greater than we can begin to imagine.  Please pray for our family and Matt as we hold him and love him as he lives out his final days on earth. We ask for prayers of comfort, peace and courage not only for Matt, but also for all of our family.  The kids and I are reminded every moment we spend with Matt, that showing him our unconditional love and being present until his last breath are the best gifts we can give him.  We love him dearly and hope he will soon be without the pain and suffering he has so bravely fought.  We appreciate your support and help while we direct our love entirely on Matt until he is set free.
Love to all,
Team Fouch
Faith Over Fear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
its beginning to feel, since we are lacking in the white stuff, Christmas.  I hope you are looking forward to spending the holidays with those you love.  We have had a little unexpected activity  since our last update.  Always something happening on and off the field.  Matt had a follow up appointment with our oncologist here and an appointment with the clinical trial doctor.  Our appointment with the oncologist went as anticipated but our other appointment was not what we were hoping.  It has been determined that Matt is not healthy enough for a clinical trial.  So we needed a couple days to pick ourselves up and wipe off the mud, sweat and tears.  Just as we were doing that Matt was not feeling well, besides being extremely fatigued he was short of breath.  After some “rock, paper, scissors” I won and we went into ER.  He was admitted Sunday evening and as I write this, we are waiting discharge papers.  Not many people ask for a drain inserted into their abdomen for Christmas, but Matt must have.  Maybe it was misinterpreted and he really asked for a  train.  That procedure took place today.  Hopefully we can help relieve the pressure and discomfort of fluid at home and decrease our time at doctor’s offices and procedure rooms.  We are also seeking palliative radiation to help with spinal pain.  After that we will see what supports we need to proceed with.  God had a plan when I decided to start a leave from teaching this week.  I am right where I need and want to be, by the man that makes me smile, gives me love and continues to fight for his family.  The kids are doing alright, showing their emotions in so many different ways.  If you see them talk about the weather, sports, fashion etc.  but maybe stay away from asking how they are.  This is tough for them to answer over and over as you can imagine.  I tell them it is because we are blessed to have a village that cares, but sometimes they just are having a hard time.    I am not sure I could have been as strong as they are at their ages.  Jake told me the other day how hard it is to see Dad this way.  Our focus will continue to be on spending time and energy together and making each day count.  Just like in football, every inch counts towards a victory.  We will just have to wait to see what God has in mind as a victory for Matt.  Well enough with this post, you can all get back to making Christmas Cookies, singing along with Alexa and watching Hallmark movies

Much Love,
Team Fouch

Faith Over Fear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,

 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and friends.  Most importantly, I hope you made treasured memories.  Our Thanksgiving was very low key this year.  Our goal was to be home and rest.  We did venture out to cut down our tree the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Yup, we were the crazy family in the pouring rain picking out a tree to cut down.  I will say, we made record time picking just the right tree.  No one got upset that “their tree” wasn’t the one, and everyone worked together to cut, haul and load the tree into the truck!  Now that is a Christmas miracle in itself!!   My guess is the rain and wind helped us out with such peace and calmness at the tree farm.  

 

Monday night Matt and I left for Houston for our scheduled appointment at MD Anderson.  Matt started Tuesday at 6:00 am with tests and scans, and then the waiting game started.  We both got some much needed sleep, have I mentioned how wonderful naps are?  We didn’t venture out at all, never left the hotel and hospital. (The hospital is connected to the hotel)  Wednesday we had our appointment with our oncologist and then we met with the clinical trial doctor and his team.  Prior to our departure we spent time praying and asking for peace in the plan that God had for us.  I will say we were both at peace going into our appointment with Dr. Johnson.  We learned that Matt’s treatment we were so hopeful about 7 weeks ago, isn’t working.  The cancer in his body has progressed in previously diseased areas as well as metastasized to his lower spine and pelvic bones.  This is definitely heartbreaking for all of us.  We are sad but determined to keep our faith that the plan for us is greater than the pain.  I had a friend that has gone through great heartache herself, text me something that is important when we were talking about how difficult this is for our kids.  She said we can’t control the situation, but we can control how we respond.  That is exactly what we will do, we will respond by continuing  to pray and keep our faith as we look at what’s next.  Matt is tired and achy, but a fighter.  He lives with nausea and fatigue everyday, but brushes it off.  You will be glad to know he hasn’t lost his dad humor, love of sports and the drive to be present for the kids and I.

 

We have continued to be given signs that we are not alone on this journey.  Last February Matt was very sick, and we were given hope and time.  This time our room when we met with Dr. Johnson in was the #23.  This is a special number for our family for two reasons.  Colossians 3:23 and Psalm 23.  We were able to book a late night flight home on Wednesday night so we could be home with our kids.  The switch from Thursday to Wednesday night was so easy and we were able to get two of the four remaining seats on the plane.  While we waited for our flight in Houston, I met a wonderful woman, Debra.  Debra and I talked for quite awhile.  She shared that she had lost her son just days before his 18th birthday.  She gave me some comforting words and how her faith kept her going when life seemed so painful. Debra just happened to be  our head flight attendant to Chicago.  She must have shared our story with the other four attendants because they were so kind and couldn’t do enough to make us comfortable.  What a blessing, we were both emotionally and physically exhausted and were just trying to keep ourselves together.  There was something comforting about someone knowing and understanding the sadness we were experiencing on our flight home. The kids were so happy to wake up this morning and find us home.  

 

We haven’t ended our game, we haven’t given up and we will still keep fighting for a win here on earth.  We also know that that we aren’t calling the plays, God has the final  say on how things are called.  Either way, victory will be found.  We have no idea how many minutes are left on the clock, none of us do, which is the most difficult part.  Miracles do happen, we are still asking for one, but also know the realities that may be ahead.  I just want to make the most out of the time we have together.  Matt, the kids and I are looking forward to events on the calendar and will see each event as a celebration.  So as I close this update, I challenge you this season to look out for one another, your family members, your friends, your neighbors, your enemies, the person you do not know.  Celebrate life’s little moments and keep cheering and praying for our Team Fouch.

 

Love to all,

Team Fouch

 

#FaithOverFear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch


Hello!


I believe that fall is in full swing, the temperatures are colder and my love for pumpkin flavored coffee, cake, candy, cookies, pie  etc. is on overdrive! The end of October also means chilly Friday night football games, crockpot meals, a running furnace, twelve blankets on our bed and the anticipation of Hallmark Holiday Movies!  The end of October also means football playoffs, conference swim meets, basketball evaluations and this year Senior Recognition Night for Jake. This past Friday, Matt and I lined up with Jake before his last regular season game, so he could be recognized as a senior.  The amount of pride Matt and I felt as we walked arm and arm with Jake, could never be captured in words, but rather a feeling in our hearts. His grit, kindness, hardwork and perseverance the past 15 months since Matt’s diagnosis make our hearts swell with love. Often, being the oldest isn’t easy, just ask Matt and my older sister Kisten.  You are the “trial and error” for your parents, you often have “all the rules”, you are a product of overprotective first time parents (yes, rookies), you have to be a “good role model” (run perfect plays) for your siblings, you need to lead by example (team captain status), you have responsibilities because you are older and so many other things that fall on your shoulders. Then add in having a parent with a life threatening disease, that is a lot for a high school senior.  Jake continues to take it all in stride, we are so proud of Jake and look forward to watching him as he continues to grow and take on his hopes and dreams.  


I would be lying if I said the past three weeks have been easy.  The last time I updated, Matt was finishing a short stay in the hospital for a mystery reaction and fluid in his abdomen resulting in his first Paracentesis.  Since that short time out he has had two additional Paracentesis procedures and another scheduled for this week. After the fluid is drained from his abdomen he does feel some relief.  We are hoping that his new treatment is effective in decreasing the production of fluid and keeping the cancer from spreading anymore. The side effects continue to keep Matt feeling like he isn’t  playing his “A Game” but he seems to fool many of the bystanders. This past week, Matt made a difficult choice, but the best choice for our family. Matt has always put our family first, and once again this is his priority.  Matt decided to take an extended medical leave for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. At the start of the year, Matt had no intention of giving cancer an opportunity to score by giving up something he dearly loved, teaching.  However, sometimes you have to let something go knowing that the gains will be greater than what you see as a loss at the time. Sometimes coaches need their star players to sit a game when they have been battered and bruised to get ready for the next game.  This is how I see Matt right now, he is getting healthy enough to continue to take on our opponent. Matt is now able to attend appointments, receive treatment, rest and focus his time on our family. I have prayed for “time” and God is giving us that, precious family time.  One of his concerns was consistency for his students, he decided it was selfish to not be able to give them his undivided attention and attendance.  


Throughout this journey we have used the mantra “Faith Over Fear!”  This continues to be how we look at each day, knowing God is leading us. We have been blessed beyond belief and the blessings continue to pour in day after day.  Some days I truly tell myself “For we walk by faith, not by sight” -(2 Corinthians 5:7) because there is no way we would keep walking if we could see what may or may not be ahead.  Had we relied on sight, we would have given up on this journey. There is something joyous about not knowing what lies ahead, but focusing on what is with us at this moment. We have a beautiful support system within our family, church family, friends, school district, students, parents, coaches, athletes, community members and people we have never met.  We have felt the prayers and words of hope and encouragement. We have smiled at the kindness we encounter daily, we embrace and appreciate each prepared meal, bag of snacks, giftcard, treasure and service you have spoiled us with. I truly have no way to explain the gratitude we feel, we have no way to say thank you to each of you individually (I still have 98 of the 100 note cards I ordered a year ago:))   My hope is that if I see you, I can say thank you with a hug or a smile. My hope is that you all know you have been an important part of this game, our offense, defense and special teams!  


So Team Fouch, keep cheering, keep fighting with us, keep living each day to the fullest, keep sending good thoughts and keep praying.  


Lots of Love,

Team Fouch

 

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Happy Sunday!
I hope you all have had a great weekend!  Besides watching some football we have been on a get-a-way to a 5 Star Hotel, okay, it’s the hospital but I find comfort in pretending.  Saturday morning Matt had a reaction to something that caused his lip to swell up.  The cause remains a mystery, so we are now the proud owners of a couple Epi-pens.  The size of his bottom lip was huge, after meds, it has returned to normal.  He was admitted for monitoring and also with a plan of draining his abdomen.  He is very uncomfortable, he doesn’t say pain, discomfort is his go to description.  This was supposed to take place today.  However, the IR team is minimal on the weekends so we have been rescheduled for tomorrow.  He will then be monitored for 4-5 hours and hopefully be able to sleep at home tomorrow night.  I am praying this offers some relief.  In Matt fashion when asked if they could touch his stomach, he said “Sure, if you touch right here maybe you will feel the baby kick!”  He hasn’t lost his sense of humor.  A couple things that we have given thanks for while here are..
1. We are on the Oncology Floor, while taking some walks around the floor we have noticed some patients have been here since August.  We thank God for our two day stay.
2.  There is a way to bring him comfort, and he has been taken care of by some of the kindest people.
3.  We are so lucky to have so many people in our lives that do not hesitate to jump in.
4.  This is more of Matt’s grateful reason, he can watch all the football he wants!  I am not sure we have watched anything else while he has been awake. (I may have binge watched The Hallmark Channel after he fell asleep last night:))

We are ready to get to our game after this brief time out. We have a special prayer request for a family in our community.  A man that has been an inspiration to many, especially us since Matt’s diagnosis passed away Friday.  Please pray for his family!  His wife is one of the strongest people I have met and he has four beautiful children.  Please also pray with us for a miracle, peace, comfort and days filled with love!

Enjoy your week!
Team Fouch

Faith Over Fear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

We have all had that moment in the game of life that we would love to have a do-over or maybe just have it disappear.   Yesterday was one of those moments for us. You have all been part of our game battling cancer, right beside us cheering, supporting us and praying which has given us great strength.  The news we received from MD Anderson was not in our favor this trip.  We had a penalty thrown at us and we have some major yards to regain.  Matt’s tumors have grown in size and have progressed to other locations in his body.  We are still trying to absorb this information and keep our heads held high.  We told the kids last night but we will have so many questions to answer when we get home today.  Being so far away and wishing you could all just hold onto on another is hard.  So what do our next steps look like?  Well first we will pray, asking for strength, comfort and guidance.  We also will ask for help to stay on the path that has been set for us.  It would be easy to step off that path looking for other ways to cope.  But we will continue to use our faith to see more clearly and believe in the plan.  We are bringing home a plan to start the last treatment plan we have as an option at this time.  The Beacon Trial has been in the news of late and we are hoping it will help us fight the opponent.  There are a few tackles before we can start that though.  The first is getting insurance to approve the treatment.  A couple of the meds have been used in prior cocktails  and they may deny it and say it didn’t work.  The next thing we need prayer for is that Matt hasn’t built up resistance to those meds used before.  He had some blood taken yesterday and we will know in 2-3 weeks the results of the blood test.  Then we need to pray Matt’s counts are where they should be to get his next infusion.  We also are praying that we can start the Beacon Trial within the next two weeks.  We are also going to begin the process of finding Phase 1 Clinical Trials locally (Michigan).  We will head back to MD Anderson in eight weeks to check the effectiveness of the new treatment and to consult with the Phase 1 Clinical Trial doctors there.  If insurance denies the treatment it is likely we will return to Houston sooner.  There will be some big decisions ahead of us.  There is no game plan that we can write at this point.  The only one that can lead us to victory is God.  We continue to go back to Joshua 1:9, it continues to mean so much to us.

 

“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.”

Joshua 1:9

 

 

Please continue to cheer loudly, pray for strength, patience and guidance.  Please pray for our kids, it is so difficult to watch them hurt and confused.  

 

Love To All,

Team Fouch

 

#Faithoverfear

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Sometimes you prepare for that Friday night football game all week and things go exactly as planned.  Sometimes you plan for the game and the other team puts in some unexpected plays,  plays that weren’t on film and have their star players return after injury.  Well, Team Fouch needs to adjust our game plan that we thought we had figured out in our most precious game, everyday life!

After abnormal results on some blood work a month ago, again last Wednesday, again Sunday in ER, again today and then an x-ray and CT scan, Matt has been told he most likely has stage IV Colon Cancer.  This team we are facing is tough, scary and likes to win, just checking stats, outcomes etc. will tell us that.  With that being said, our team, Team Fouch will not back down, we will approach each play with love, strength, faith and by listening to God, the almighty coach.  Please say some prayers for our family as we prepare for this showdown.   This isn’t a game we wanted to play, no one wants this opponent called cancer, but now we will play tough, we will play hard and we will not quit.
So we now acknowledge what we know and that is...“It’s Game Time” and Matt Fouch is out to win!
Matt’s Story

Site created on July 19, 2018

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