Journal

Journal entry by matt fouch

Today I am proud to say that I am a Cancer Survivor of 1 year.  

As summer is in full swing, today is a day that will forever be etched in my mind. 
 One year ago today July 18, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  This past year has put me on a journey that nobody wants to go on.  However during this process, I have learned so much about myself, my family, the EGR community, and friends.  So many positive things have come out of this.  I have mentioned that before but it’s so true.  

 

This past year has been a challenge in many ways.  The physical challenges have pushed me to a level that I never imagined.  When you are used to doing as much as possible and staying busy, it’s been a challenge to slow my life down and not do as much.  That has been a difficult pill to swallow.  The side effects can be brutal some days to be honest.  I try my best to not them interfere with life, but sometimes it is just not possible.  I mention to Jill many days that I want my life back, but I remind myself that this is life currently and I just have to fight through it. 

 

Another challenge has been keeping a positive attitude.  I would say that most of the time I have been positive about my journey but some days the battle feels a lot harder and the negativity sneaks in.  It’s during these times when I lean on family and friends to help get back to my positive attitude.  This goes right along with being mentally tough.  Mental toughness is a point of emphasis each year that I coach and teach and it has been something that I have had to remind myself of each day.  It would be easy to just say this is too hard or too painful or too difficult but I think about how I would push my students to be successful and I would remind myself that I need to take my own advice.  

 

Even though that I am going through chemo and all its side effects, the hardest part for me is seeing the impact on my family.  They live this nightmare every day and it’s so hard to see them struggle and hurt and there is not much that I can do or say to help them.  

 

As Jill mentioned in her most recent post, our latest trip to MD Anderson for tests and scans was very positive.  The tumors are stable with many of them being reduced in size. The mass on my colon is stable.  My team at MD Anderson was very happy with these results.  The plan is to continue this line of chemo. As Jill and I walked out of the office, we were thrilled.  I was able to make phone calls to my family to let them know the news.   

 

The trips to Houston put Jill and I through the wringer.  The anxiety begins a couple of days before we leave and lasts until we get home.  We are both physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted by the end of the trip.  After hearing such good news we thought we would celebrate this little victory but we were so drained, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to hotel to get some rest.  

 

As we begin year 2, I will continue on the same treatment plan with chemo every 2 weeks and trips to Houston every 10-12 weeks until this chemo stops working or a change is necessary.  At this point, the biggest issue is how my body can withstand the chemo.  Many times they will have to change some of the dosage or the mixture to make sure that I can stay on the treatments.  As the chemo has a cumulative affect, I am seeing that the side effects are a little more intense and learning to deal with these is a difficult task.  As I tell many people, this pain is a lot better than the alternative.  I have a lot of people ask me how many treatments I have left and the answer is I don’t know.  We just take it one trip to Houston at a time.  

 

I also need to mention a few others that have made this journey a lot easier.  First and foremost is my wife Jill.  She has been my rock since day 1 and I wouldn’t be where I am without her. My 3 kids Jake, Maddie and Z have provided me with motivation to keep battling.  Our immediate family has provided us so much support.  To mention all the ways they have helped would make this post very long.  

 

Many other people have been a huge support as well.  All of out extended families near and far, friends, the staff at EGR schools, New Heart Church, EGR football coaches both present and past and the EGR community.  This list could go on and on but I just want everyone to know that many people have played a huge role in getting me to year 2. 

 

As I wrap this up, remember to enjoy every day and live each day to the fullest.  Don’t let the little things in life drag you down and cherish your time with family and friends. 

 

Thank you all for the support, positive vibes and prayers that we feel every day.  It’s going to be a long journey but having all your support is a huge help

 

Enjoy the rest of your summer.  

 

Thanks again

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Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello!

I hope you are finding this summer enjoyable and are out creating memories with those you love! We are almost one year from Matt's diagnosis and we are still playing tough  Matt and I were in Houston for his scans and doctor appointment last week and I am glad we live in Michigan.  The sun is intense and the heat is crazy hot! We took a ten minute walk from our hotel to the hospital and in that time we were both dripping in sweat and Matt’s hands were scorched, his nose and chin were on fire.  We forgot his gloves and cover for his face, we won’t do that again. We decided that we would rely on Lyft for the rest of our travel. While in Houston we received great news. Matt’s tumors are stable and many decreased in size.  To give you an idea what decreased means if a tumor measured 2.1 cm by 4.3 cm in April, it measured 1.9 cm by 4.2 cm. Baby steps, but we will take it. The anxiety and worry we had prior to his scans and appointment was off the charts.  Although we know God has a plan, not knowing exactly what that plan is causes great stress. When we found out the good news we both felt like a boulder was lifted off our chest. We will make another visit the beginning of October, this gives us ten weeks to kinda forget about cancer.  Of course we need to schedule around a Friday night football game, cancer will not interrupt our game.  


Team Fouch continues to gain strength, peace and faith from all our supporters and fans.  This game will have the most over times ever, maybe even breaking a world record. Each time we line up, we are not sure what we might face.  Will Matt’s blood work be okay, will is blood pressure be low enough, will he have weight loss, how many days will he feel downright awful, which part of the body will have the most joint pain, how long will the pain last, will he struggle getting up and moving in the morning, will he keep food down, will he suffer from burns because he took the kids fishing and so many other factors to think about.  Now, I don’t want you to think we are giving up the fight, but it is also okay to know and accept the realities. You all know Matt and he is the most passionate and stubborn guy. He hides his pain and how he really feels well.  


We have had some summer adventures and we are going to make the most of the next four weeks before school starts.  The kids and I went to Mackinac Island to celebrate my parent’s anniversary. The kids were free to come and go, in pairs of course.  They spent time with their aunts and uncles, enjoyed cousin shenanigans and had some special time with Nina and Bumpa. Matt sat this trip out because he didn’t know how he would feel and since we were two miles from town we worried about his physical needs as well.  The kids and Matt have been enjoying my sister in law and brother in law’s pontoon boat on Reed’s Lake. They go fishing a lot but I have also noticed they come home empty handed. Lifting for football has been a regular activity, baseball ended this past weekend and swim practice is way to early for me but Maddie goes in some shape or form.  Our biggest news is that we added a member to our team. After asking, begging, doing research, saving money and some sweet talk, Zac got a puppy. Kabookie isn’t sure about Louie, but I am sure they will be best buds.


We are looking forward to sending Maddie and Zac to Camp Kesem.  This a place that they will be will other kids on the same cancer journey with someone they love, a parent.  We picked the Notre Dame sight to sell Zac on the whole camp thing. It is actually not on campus but all their counselors are Notre Dame students.  We will do some college visits with Jake, that is a whole other emotional issue for me. We will end our summer with an activity that we all love, camping.  After that trip football for both boys starts, swimming begins for Maddie and Matt and I head back to school. Matt will be going back full time to the middle school doing what he loves, this will be year 21 for him.  After twenty-two years in middle school, I will be spending part of my day at the elementary level. I am really looking forward to this. Since Matt, his dad and the two kids were all at the middle school last year, I was living cancer 24/7.  When presented with this opportunity my thought was, I guess God knew I needed a break from cancer for a few hours. We have learned that looking at situations with a positive attitude helps when presented with challenges. Jake will start his senior year (I am in denial), Maddie will be a freshman (Lord help us) and Zac will start seventh grade (Finally the only Fouch kid at the middle school).  I am sure this year will fly by, they always seem to be faster than the last.


I hope I haven’t bored you too much with this lengthy post.  If I have, you should have stopped reading sooner:)  


Until next time, love to all,

Team Fouch


#TeamFouch

#FaithOverFear



Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Happy Summer!
We have officially completed one week of summer break.  Although the weather hasn't acted like it is summer yet, we have fallen into break mode without any trouble.  Matt continues to be a warrior with treatment and side effects.  Typically he spends 6-7 hours every other Friday, letting the chemo drip through his veins with a goal of keeping cancer from gaining any ground.  He then is okay that evening thanks to the steroids.  He starts to fatigue and suffer from some nausea at some point on Saturday and the effects hit him hard by Sunday.  He bounces back midweek and usually has a few great days and then the joint pain hits.  This has been hard for Matt because it slows him down and his whole body hurts.  I admire him because he still participates in "life" with hopes not to miss a memory in the making.  The other side effect that has been bad is his sensitivity to sun.  We are figuring out what precautions to take and learning as we go along.  Zinc every hour, long sleeve shirts with SPF protection, gloves and sleeves that have protection as well.  He bought a new hat with attachable face masks, thank goodness he didn't buy the one that looks like a clown.  We are really trying to avoid the burns that are similar to the burns patients having radiation get after treatment.  Now that I think of it, maybe our not so summer weather has been a gift from God.

Summer doesn't mean our schedule is less busy.  We take school out of the mix but add in baseball, baseball and more baseball.  Jake is working at the ball fields and playing some summer league ball. Zac is playing little league and is on the All Star Team.  Maddie has started swimming again, I give her a lot of credit since practice is from 7 am-9 am.  I start teaching Extended School Year this week and Matt adds some football to his plate.  Kabookie is just trying to figure out why he doesn't get as many naps during the day, we have certainly disrupted his routine.

Celebrating today with Matt was very special for different reasons then in past years.  We have always celebrated Matt, each of our fathers and other men in our lives that give guidance as a father does.  This year seems like a celebration of life!  Matt told us tonight that last year in July he wasn't sure he would be with us, in person, this year.  We are finding each holiday, birthday and events mean so much more.  We find that we pray to be present each day and to give gratitude to God, our father that gives us so much love.  Our faith keeps us focused on the greater plan and helps us see more clearly after tears are shed.  Our faith provides comfort during the many side effects, to help answer tough questions that our kids have, to value what we often were to busy to notice and permission to love like tomorrow isn't promised. 

Team Fouch is not giving up this battle, we are fighting for a victory!  Part of our fight is to recognize when our emotional, physical and spiritual well being are in a place that we need to call in support .  Part of our fight is to recognize that we may get knocked down but we have a team and fans that will help us back up again.  Part of our fight is to continue to look to our coach and listen to his message.

We hope that you all are able to make some great memories this summer with those you love. I know we will be using every opportunity to make memories of our own.  

Faith Over Fear!

Love to all,
Team Fouch

Journal entry by matt fouch

Hello, 
Its been a long time since I have added a journal entry.  Its going to be hard to write an entry that is as good as Jill's, but I will give it a try.  I hope that everyone had a great memorial day weekend.  Jill and I and the kiddos were able to get away for a couple nights to relax, calm down and have some well needed family time.  Spring time is full of baseball games and water polo matches.  We are usually going in many different directions and have little time to slow life down and spend some time together.  This weekend was well needed and very productive.  Jill and I were able to have some discussions with the kids about how they are doing emotionally and opened it up for any questions.  

I wanted to write a journal entry this time because I was asked by a friend last week how I was doing.  He didn't want to hear it from someone else, but right from the horse's mouth.  Jill does a fantastic job of letting you know how I am feeling.  I just feel the need to let you know in my own words.  

Since the our last update and the good news from MD Anderson, life has continued on with new normal.  The day after returning from Houston, Coach LaMange and the EGR baseball team had a Team Fouch day.  The 3 teams involved in the day all wore Team Fouch hats that were made with a baseball instead of a football.  It was a great day.  A lot of people came out to see the game and it was very humbling and overwhelming.  The community support has been unbelievable and this day verified that.  Before the last game of the day, I was asked to throw out the first pitch.  I was so nervous that I was going to make a terrible pitch.  To increase the pressure, I had a lot of people giving me a hard time about whether or not I could get the pitch accurately to the catcher.  I was able to make a successful throw.  The highlight for me though was the catcher was my son Jake.  He came out and gave me the ball and a huge hug.  It was a very emotional moment that I will never forget.  

Back to the point of my post is that I am feeling good most days.  I still have chemo every 2 weeks and still have a few days of feeling worn out and tired.  However I have a lot of days that I feel good and am able to go about my usual activities.  The biggest issue that I deal with is fatigue.  I tire quickly and am trying to pace myself.  I am also learning to deal with the sun a lot differently.  Due to the chemo, my skin is very sensitive to the sun.  I find myself burned quite easily and have to make sure that I have plenty of sunscreen, floppy hats and long sleeve shirts available to stay comfortable.  Its going to be a learning curve this summer dealing with the sun and learning to protect myself.  I want to do as much as possible, but I have to remind myself I need to slow down and take care of myself. 

I have had a lot of people ask my family and close friends how I am doing.  They mention that they do not want to bother me.  Honestly, it doesn't bother me in the least for you to ask me how I am doing.  As I have said since the beginning of my chemo treatments, if you see me out in public, then I am feeling good.  If I don't feel well you won't see me.  The same can be said for people asking me how I am doing.  I have no problem letting you know how I am feeling.  I don't want anyone to think they are bothering me.  People asking me how I am doing makes me feel good. 

As we approach the end of the school year and look forward to family time this summer, I challenge you all to do a few things.  The first is enjoy everyday to the fullest.  You will never know when life is going to throw a curveball your way.  Take advantage of everyday to be the best you can be.  The second is don't sweat the small stuff.  All of those little things that used to bother me no longer do as much.  Sometimes I find myself going down that road and have to remind myself.  The last thing is cherish your time with your family.  Even though a cancer diagnosis is scary, I have had so many positives that come out of this.  Family time is one that is truly embraced and one that we now find more time together. 

As always, thank you for all the support, positive vibes and prayers.  Keep them coming.  This is going to be one hell of a battle but I am determined, driven and stubborn enough to see it through and beat this.  Cancer has messed with the wrong team and we will win. 

Take care and god bless. 

Matt

Journal entry by Jill Fouch


Hello,

Wow, what a wonderful weekend we had! Our blessings continued from Friday into the weekend and we were able to spend time together as a party of five as well as with so many of our fans, coaches, team members, cheerleaders etc.  Our community and people from all over show such love and support to us all the time but this weekend at the Varsity Baseball Games. They scheduled a “Team Fouch” day, what a celebration. So many people were there with hugs, kind words and cheering after our news at MD Anderson the day prior.  I witnessed something so special it is engraved in my mind. Matt threw out the first pitch, yes he did make it across the plate, and Jake was the catcher for that game. Watching them meet after the pitch on the field and hug was so wonderful. If your wondering, EGR won both games! On Sunday our family went to church at New Heart Church and I was able to give my testimony about my faith and the journey to get there.  I then was baptised, what an amazing experience. Now I realize that everyone reading this is at different places with religion and may feel uncomfortable talking about this. However, I feel so thankful that I want to share my testimony with you.

I should give you some background first.  My parents had me baptised as an infant and made a commitment to raise me knowing God, they so lovingly carried through with this.  We went to church on Sundays, religious education, youth group and felt blessed knowing that God was so good. As I grew older and went to college, then after marriage and after having each of my kids  I still ‘tried” to stay this course. Somewhere between weekend games, activities and exhaustion we fell away from this path and would “try” to make attending church fit into our busy schedules. Many times I yearned to be like my parents and Matt’s parents with the commitment they had with us when we were younger.  After Matt’s diagnosis finding our Faith became so important to us, thanks to those many people that prayed and still pray for us.

So no matter where you are, I felt the need to share my journey.  


Faith Over Fear,

Jill

 

Finding Faith-Baptism Testimony

 

July 18, 2018 our family’s world changed in less than a three hour period.  Two and a half hours after a MRI in the emergency room on my husband’s abdomen, we received a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer.  Immediately tears poured from my eyes, I was in a state of shock. The thought of losing my best friend, my husband, the love of my life and the most loving and dedicated father, made me feel like I was suffocating. Questions about why, how, when spiraled in my head along with denial and every other emotion imaginable.  We were admitted for biopsies, tests, a Port insertion for treatment etc. Matt and I were beyond heartbroken and filled with fear like I had never felt before, thrown into what felt like the darkest hole. Once Matt was comfortable and asleep feelings of hopelessness, despair and loneliness took over my mind, body and soul.   I wandered the hospital like a small child that had lost their mother. I went from the family sitting area, I circled the hallway, stopped to check on Matt, texted my sister all while crying out for help. I spent many hours searching “Google” for cures, treatments, statistics, best case scenarios, worst case scenarios and every piece of information in between.  I was desperate, this wasn’t happening, not to us! I continued this sequence of events until around 3:30 am in the morning. Around this time I put my phone aside and curled up in the family sitting area, knowing that if I went back to Matt’s room I would wake him. I was so tired, so angry, so hurt, so alone, so sad and so lost. As I lay there I noticed a television in the corner of the room that I hadn’t noticed on earlier.  I believe God wiped away my tears long enough to notice it as well as giving me the gift of being present in order to hear his message. You see, the spiritual channel was on and the word FAITH was so loud and clear, I believe God sent me that message. It was at that moment I felt safe, protected, like someone wrapped me in a hug and held me. Instead of “Googling” treatments, cures, the “what ifs” etc. I prayed! I asked for forgiveness, I asked for guidance, I asked for strength.  I yearned for a relationship with God. I wanted God in my life, I needed him. For the first time in my life, I wanted my faith to be bigger than my fears. I put my trust in God, something that I had never fully allowed myself to do. I gave my worries, fears, sadness, anger and other feelings to him. I accepted that God has a plan for me and for my family.

Nine months into our journey I feel God’s presence, I am not afraid to take his hand. He brings comfort and peace. He brings joy and hope. He brings never ending love to my family. I have had so many messages sent from God that remind me that he is right next to me.  A message that is truly special to me was using my own son Jacob, as a messenger to bring our family to New Heart Church. I now know that the tears that I often shed are so I can see more clearly, I also know that without experiencing darkness, I would not crave the light.

Joshua 1:9   is a verse that I have read and recited since Matt’s diagnosis.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 How blessed am I to know that God’s love for me is so great that he will never leave me.   How blessed am I to have the Lord as my savior. How blessed am I that the Lord lifts me up and sets me free.

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
Today is Good Friday and Team Fouch certainly is not taking that for granted!  Praise God!  Today we received some positive news, we are back on offense.  We met with our oncologist  at MD Anderson this afternoon and Matt’s scans show improvement!  His tumors have gotten smaller which means thanks to God and chemo we feel like we are gaining on this awful opponent.  I feel like we just received the best news possible and what a glorious weekend to hear it!  Nine months ago we were thrown into such a dark place but because of faith in God, our support from everyone and the endless love, we feel such sunshine and are full of light.  As I sit here at the hospital with the sun shining on me, I have trust in the plan and we will continue to follow it.  Matt has a smile I haven’t seen in months, the kids can carry a little less worry and I may sleep well tonight.  We fly home tonight and are looking forward to a full day of activities tomorrow.  We start our day with two water polo games for Maddie, ithen we will trade a football for baseballs with one game for Z and two games for Jake.  Then we will celebrate Easter with much joy and gratefulness for God’s many blessings in our life.  In one of my first posts I mentioned a sign that I came across, purchased and then placed on our wall that would be a reminder each day.
 ”Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9
How lucky we are to know we are not on this journey alone!

Wishing you a weekend filled with home runs, touchdowns, joy, blessings and love!  

Happy Easter,
Team Fouch

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
It has been a while since I have posted an update about our journey.  It makes me think of the saying "No news, is good news!"  I am happy to say this is the case right now in our lives.  Since I last updated, Matt has started his new treatments and completed three rounds.  His side effects seem to change a little each time which keeps us on our toes.  Nausea and fatigue have been consistent side effects of all Matt's treatments.  However, this treatment has brought about joint pain and the dreaded hair loss.  Our key player now is bald after discovering his hair was falling out while in Florida.  After our first day of fun at Disney with Z and Maddie, Matt took his hat off and all of us noticed a big circle that was hairless on his head.  From that point on he and Z joked that he could pull it out and spread it like "Pixie Dust" throughout the parks.  For anyone visiting any of the Disney World Parks over spring break, Matt has left a little magic for you.  He decided he looked a little like "Goofy" and had the rest shaved at our resort.  

Matt's treatment days are longer and he usually can count on being downtown for at least seven hours.  Luckily they give him a very high dose of Benadryl and he sleeps a lot of the time he is there.  Our new oncologist is awesome and we continue to feel so much more at ease!  She takes the time to listen, explain things, text Matt with information and support our game plan from MD Anderson.  We feel truly blessed that she was put in our lives.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that a major part of your Team is all in,  100% devoted and prepared to handle this nasty opponent.  One of the things she does is check is his CEA (cancer markers) once a month.  This wasn't done until we went to Houston.  While at MD Anderson, his CEA number was 95.  After his first treatment his number dropped to 57 and after the second treatment it was 10!  Once again we know that God has got this, so we continue to have faith in his plan.  Matt will have one more treatment prior to our trip back to MD Anderson in mid April.

Our family was given a trip to Disney World by one of Matt's former students.  I remember getting the phone call from a mutual friend telling me about this kind and generous gift.  Matt and I shed a few tears before connecting with Mackenzie.  Well, we took our trip March 14-18, 2019.  This trip was so magical and memorable for so many reasons.  Z and Maddie had smiles that were not forced and pure joy in their hearts.  Matt and I were able to slow down from work, extra activities, doctor's appointments and treatments to simply have kid like fun.  The time we were there was very busy, but a great busy, a busy that fills the soul.  Jake did not join us on this trip since missing high school is tough.  He also wanted to be around for the entire first week of baseball.  We all missed him a lot, I am not sure I will be ready for him to go to college in a year and a half.  His turn to take a trip is the end of this week.  He, Matt and Jerry will take off Friday for a road trip to look at a couple colleges, and check out the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid in Memphis, TN.  It doesn't sound like much, but if you have a chance check out the website you will see it's like a Disney World for hunters and fishermen.  Who wouldn't want to stay in a hotel with a balcony over looking the man made swamp?  This is a twelve story high "shop" complete with a hotel,bowling ally, shooting range, archery range and so much more.  I can only imagine the stories Jake will tell after spending time with Matt and his grandpa.

Other then that, Team Fouch has had a pretty "normal" month since we started this new game plan.  The kids are trying to keep their head in the game of life and school.  Like with any journey such as cancer, there are moments of worry, anxiety, questioning and frustration.  However, I would say our Team Spirit brings many more moments of gratitude, joy, empathy, motivation and love than despair.  The support and cheering we continue to receive is amazing, and keeps us strong mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  We have been able to make lemonade from lemons that were thrown at us in July.  We have been able to grow and understand that when bad things happen, how things end up will be determined by how we handle the situation.  Our faith continues to grow, and we believe that nothing is impossible with God.  In one of my first updates I mentioned a sign that I stumbled across shortly after July 18.  "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.  I see this hanging in our house numerous times a day, and each time I am reminded about having faith in our head coach's plan.  

Many of you are on spring break or will start spring break at the end of this week.  I hope you are and will continue to create memories with those you love.  Even if you are not venturing anywhere, take a moment each day to create a vacation.  Take time to think about all the blessings in your life.  Spread joy like glitter, we all know glitter is impossible to get rid of, joy should be equally as impossible to get rid of.  We will continue to fight hard in this game against this opponent we call cancer.  Our team, including all of you, is strong and determined and most of all we believe in "Faith Over Fear!"

Love to all,
Team Fouch

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello,
I hope this week has treated you well and you have found many victories along your way.  One victory this week was having five days of school:)  We arrived back in town Friday night, our house was warm, thank you to so many of you that continue to bless us with your kindness!  Our kids survived unharmed and more importantly my brother and sister-in-law survived.  I am sure when they said they would stay with our kids, they didn't sign up for four days without heat and power.  We spent Saturday with our kids, sleeping, catching up on odds and ends and sleeping some more.  Our recruiting trip was physically low key but emotionally exhausting. 

We continue to try to be transparent with where we are emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally not only with one another but with our kids too.  By doing this our faith and trust continues to strengthen. Each time Matt has a scan and tests it causes a flood of feelings to resurface from July 18, 2018. We are reminded it is okay to be weak, scared, heartbroken and unsure during this journey.  However, since we started this journey we have grown individually, as a couple and as a family in faith and belief that God has a plan for us.  I have spoken to a few people about a change in how I communicate and display my faith.  A year ago I would not have openly talked about my/our families beliefs, faith and relationship with God because I didn't want to offend anyone. (I seek peace and have since I was young)  However, in the past seven months there have been too many messages that have caused us to be more vocal beyond our walls. Which is why I have said a few times in previous posts,  I do not believe that the things we have experienced along the way are merely coincidences.   
Wednesday we were hoping to line up and try out the new play we received from MD Anderson.  We had prepared carefully by scanning and emailing information and our treatment recommendation to Jerry to hand deliver to the oncologist's office.  We sent many messages and made calls to ensure we could execute our plan.  There are times when the "plans" do not work exactly how you hope. This was the case once we met with our doctor.  I will say during that time Matt and I thought things were falling apart, but really something greater was developing.  We left the office with some intense emotions and lacking confidence about being on the same page as our oncologist.  Leaving the office we knew it was time to take a leap and seek a change.  After having such a positive experience in Houston, it was difficult to leave feeling disheartened and questioning the game we were playing.  Matt and I weren't home for long trying to process and figure out our next move when I received a message on Facebook.  This message was from someone that knows our journey all to well.  She herself is playing a game similar to ours.  She was checking in, wondering how we did at MDA and letting us know she was thinking about us.  I messaged her back and explained the morning we had had.  She too had that experience and was able to help us walk through her next steps.  Then another text came through from someone Matt and I have known for years and we both have been blessed to have their kids.  They knew we had concerns when we saw them on Sunday and they were already helping us through the next steps, before we knew we needed help.  Then later I sent a message to someone whose family is on a journey as well.  She quickly helped us navigate the situation and bring so much comfort and peace back to us.  Some may say all three interactions were simply coincidences.  We say there are not coincidences but rather messages from our Coach to have faith.

So this week we will put on our "Team Fouch" game faces and do what we need to continue to fight for a win!  We will continue to chat FAITH over fear, be energized by all of your prayers, positive thoughts and cheers!  

Until next time,
Jill

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Good Evening,

We made it back to Grand Rapids late Friday night from our recruiting trip.  We were welcomed back with the blessing of a generator to help warm our house up and three excited kids.  Our power went out at 2:50 am Wednesday morning and came back on last night.  I have to say that we felt pretty helpless in Houston knowing that so many were without heat, but grateful my brother kept everyone laughing and making memories regardless of the situation.  I am sure we are not the only ones extremely thankful some of the things we have taken for granted in our lives.  We found ourselves thanking God for the ongoing support and love from our family, friends and community that seem to hold us tight during a time of a big tackle.    

The last time I updated we had just finished a long day at MD Anderson Hospital.  Tuesday was a day of rest, reading and a short field trip to the Galleria Mall.  I was surprised that Matt wanted to go, in fact it was his idea:)  I have to say, a much different experience than my Target or TJ Maxx trips.  Watching people interact and move about is one of my favorite things to do, I was able to to do plenty of that.

Wednesday afternoon was our appointment with our oncologist to go over results of Matt's scans and blood work.  I have to say that we all were pretty nervous, pretty normal when you are learning about a possible new play or the stats of an opponent that is so fierce.  As we started our appointment I could sense that we were about to be tackled big time with the results.  Matt's tumors showed progression in size in both the colon and the liver.  The amount of lymph nodes affected increased in his abdomen and one spot showed up in his right lung.  For a brief time I think we had the wind knocked out of us.  As we managed to get back to our feet, and we started talking about our defense. We discussed what needed to change in order to be strong and stop the B-RAF mutation that adds an extra punch to stopping this monster.  We felt comfortable with the team that we were given at MD Anderson, and they continued to answer questions and give us needed information.  It was decided that we proceed with the new treatment locally, with another trip to Houston mid April for scans and blood work.  This will probably be the game plan for the future, a visit to MD Anderson every 10-12 weeks.  We are hoping to keep treatments locally but we will let God take control, for his plan is the one we need to follow.  Please pray that our local oncologist feels the same urgency that Dr. Johnson did in Houston to get this treatment started as soon as possible.  Also pray that the side effects are manageable for Matt.  He is a trooper, mouth sores, stomach issues, constant fatigue and nausea have a hard time keeping him down. 

We finished up the week absorbing the new information, getting familiar with all that MD Anderson has to offer and setting up our next steps.  One observation that I made as we walked around the hospital is the care and compassion that everyone had for one another, regardless of their age, gender, race, cultural background, gender identity, religion or physical abilities.  This made me think that if people that are dealt such a difficult time can accept, embrace and understand each other, why can't our entire population do this on a daily basis.  I am still trying to come up with that answer, I probably won't in my lifetime, but I will continue to model the behaviors I saw.

I mentioned before how nothing is a coincidence, which leads me into our Thursday night Lyft story.  We decided to meet up with some EGRPS HS staff for dinner.(They happened to be there for an IB conference) We climbed into our Lyft car and on the dashboard was a baseball cap that said "Pray."  I mentioned to Darren, our driver, that we had been doing a lot of praying.  We shared that we were in Houston for another opinion on Matt's cancer.  He started reciting the verse from James 5:13.  Matt and I looked at each other in disbelief since this was the verse shared with us prior to our departure by Adam, and we knew once again, that nothing is a coincidence but rather a message from above.  When we arrived at the restaurant he asked if he could pray with us, we jumped at the chance.  What an experience, what a message, what a great way to send us back home.

So as we start out new defense, our new game plan, we need you to continue to cheer for us, pray with us and send thoughts that wrap us with courage, peace and love.  All of these things help us stay in the game.  Our opponent is trying really hard to knock us down, but Team Fouch does not give up without a fight.

Until next time,
Love to all,
Team Fouch

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Hello Team Fouch Fans, Supporters, Officials, Entertainment Crew, Hospitality Specialists, Assistant Coaches, Team Chaplin, Spiritual Leaders, Cheerleaders, Medical Staff,  Players Big and Small, Old and New and everyone that keeps us energized and ready to gain yardage each day of this journey,

We are in Houston, Texas!  I guess we came to MD Anderson on a recruiting trip:)  Since our fields were buried last week in snow and now flooded from the warm up, this was a great time to take a break from our game in progress and check our game plan and possibly bring on some new players.  The good news is we can keep our medical team in Grand Rapids and have them work with the team here on our game plan.  

We were anxious about leaving the kids for the week, missing school and climbing on a plane with little to no knowledge of what to expect. We knew we were leaving our kids, Kabookie too, in good hands.  We also had our note taker, negotiator, terminator and comic relief person come along with us on this first trip, my sister Kristen.  After our 6:30 am flight yesterday morning, our anxiety decreased and we were ready to learn a lot!  We have found that you never know who you will meet and how they will impact your life.  A lady my sister works with in Canton, connected us to a couple that have been on a journey very similar to ours.  After the connection was made, guess what, they were going to be in Houston the same time as we were.  We were able to meet them for dinner last night, share stories, ask questions and laugh about our experiences thus far.  The best thing is, they only live a couple hours away which means we can stay in contact and hopefully support one another. 

So nothing in life is a coincidence, we know that God has his hand in what happens to our family and ultimately has a plan for us.  This becomes clearer and clearer as we take our journey.  How smoothly being referred and getting our appointments for this week, connecting with Brad and Erin, today being "World Cancer Day", Kabookie Week starting at the high school and the only numbers in our wifi pass code being 23 (a number that is significant in our family), clicking with our doctor immediately are only a few signs.  So maybe the 70 degree weather too:))) 

First of all, MD Anderson is exactly what everyone has told us, AMAZING!  There are so many people that are helpful, I am pretty sure we had the "I have no idea" look on our faces this morning.  This also included a person in the waiting areas asking if they get you some water. A cafeteria that serves Chick-Fil-A and makes Sushi!  The Uber and Lyft drivers are nice, drive nicer cars than I could ever dream of, and give us front door service.  Our accommodations are wonderful and make us feel at home.  This place is a fine tuned machine and has thought of everything possible to teach and support families taking this Journey.  They have inspiration plaques throughout the hospital, the first one we saw this morning said, "Who's a survivor?"  "You became a survivor on the day you were diagnosed!"  We hadn't looked at survivor-ship in that way before.  Yes, they are right, Matt is and will be a survivor! 

As we spend our week here we are trying to embrace the experience and look at it as a vacation:)  Yes, we are here to make sure we are doing the best treatments and are on the right track, we are recruiting and evaluating our game plans.  Yes, there are appointments, blood draws, several tests, a schedule to follow and times that cause us to wait.  But also there is the opportunity to explore, talk to people and learn about their journey, break out of our shells and sit right next to someone we don't know in the waiting room and end up carrying on a 45 minutes conversation and most importantly count our blessings.  We might not be on a "vacation" but in a a crazy way we are.  We are together without our daily demands and distractions.  We are able to experience lots of new things in a city we haven't been to before (or sleep), we can walk outside with out a winter coat and boots and we are driven around like we are important:)  A friend of mine posted something on FB about vacations and I saw this fitting.



So as we continue to follow our Coach's plan and "find a vacation everyday." We also encourage you to keep those positive thoughts and vibes coming.  Keep the cheers loud and proud!  The prayers and love you send us each day keep us confident, bring about a sense of peace and fuel our faith.  

Time to get back to our recruiting process, until next time, FAITH over fear!

Love to all, 
Matt and Jill

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

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.   Please pray for our entire family.

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