Journal

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.

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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

Hello,
We have almost made it through an entire week back at work and life.  This week has been good, busy and exhausting rolled all in one.  Matt is charging ahead, he wants to make a touchdown in the worst way.  We are filling out forms and more forms for our upcoming visit to MD Anderson.  I found something on facebook that I think is a good analogy of what treatment is like and will continue to be like for Matt. Although we are still fighting the mountain lion, I hope we find the bear!  We can't thank you all for the continued support, love and prayers.  We hold them all in our hearts and they feed our fighting souls.  

FAITH over fear,
Jill



Just read this on a Facebook page I'm following, I think you'll like it. 

They didn't mention who the author is.

 

................. In case you've ever wondered................

 

"What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.

 

Wait, what? How? Why is there a mountain lion in your fridge? NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. RUN! THE MOUNTAIN LION WILL KILL YOU! UNLESS YOU FIND SOMETHING EVEN MORE FEROCIOUS TO KILL IT FIRST!

 

So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion - “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” - and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.

 

Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”

 

As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy - they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself - why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an ******* for even thinking that - and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?

 

Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you - maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband - comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.

 

Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ***, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”

 

Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.

Maybe. You’re not sure - it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.

 

And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”

Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “**** this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.”

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Happy New Year!  We hope your holidays were filled with love, joy and memories.  We have been on a time-out for the past few weeks.  I will try to provide a “replay” of what Team Fouch has been up to, warning it is not a quick replay by any means.

Our replay begins with Matt’s biopsy in November.  After several doctor’s appointments and Matt’s situation being brought up to the tumor board, it was decided to do a surgical biopsy.  This involved a few days in the hospital and healing at home.  When the results came back from that biopsy the next week we were informed that it was colon cancer that had progressed to the soft tissue in his chest.  Of course at first we were again heartbroken.  After awhile and time to process the information we were able to get our “fighting spirit” back.  Since there was progression of the cancer during Matt’s first line treatment, our oncologist switched the line of treatment to a new chemo.   It was at this point we decided it was time to seek another opinion, and MD Anderson was contacted.  Within a few hours we had a return call and the ball was rolling.  More on that later. We went ahead and started the new treatment the Wednesday prior to holiday break.  Matt was a champ during the infusion and we noticed fewer side effects than with the initial chemo.  Two days later, his pump was disconnected, fluids were given for low sodium levels and then we packed up our team bus and headed to Florida.  We were on a mission, seeking the summer that slipped away after Matt’s diagnosis in July.  This was something we promised the kid’s when our “Bummer Summer” began July 18, 2018.



Usually on road trips, which Matt loves, he takes control of the driving.  Well after twenty years it was my turn to climb into the driver’s seat.  I pushed Matt to the back of the bus to rest, rest and rest some more. 

Cocoa Beach was our destination, a little time to re-hydrate and energize.  Watching the stress and worry leave our kids during our time in Florida was the best gift we could have been given.  The complexities of cancer were left in Grand Rapids, for a week at least.  Zac was very vocal about keeping many of our Christmas Traditions even though we wouldn’t be home.  I packed a small tree, cookie making items such as a rolling pin and cutters, ornament making supplies and the s’mores items.  Per Matt’s request we had some “forced family fun” the night we arrived and made ornaments for our three foot tree.  It was a pretty special tree, not the most traditional looking tree, but showed everyone’s personality.  The next morning we joined thousands of people on the beach to watch the Surfing Santa’s.  The outfits people wore were creative, interesting and  amazing.  Matt and I sat down in a small open spot, not paying much attention to who was seated around us.  The boys were “horsing” around, three days in the car will cause that, and the woman next to us was having fun watching them.  Of course Matt struck up a conversation and she asked where we were from etc.  I mentioned the boys being in the car for hours, how we stopped more than we typically do to give Matt some rest due to his cancer, which lengthened our travel time.  She asked what type of cancer Matt had. It was at that moment I know she and her husband were not next to us by chance, but rather put on our path by our head coach.  I will not forget the tears in her eyes as she shared she had been diagnosed seven years ago with stage IV colon cancer. She was very familiar with the journey we on, the game we are playing and the desire for a victory.  She was the inspiration we both needed, at the right time.  We also learned that she was a big Marshall Football Fan, perhaps the boy’s t-shirts were a giveaway that we love the game as well. (It’s hard to find anything in their drawers that do not say East Football)  She then shared that her father had been aboard the plane that crashed with the Marshall Team, AD, Coaches, Medical Staff and administrators.  Her father was the Athletic Director for Marshall.  Her story brought us more strength and hope.  Hugs were exchanged along with names and contact information before we left the beach.  Another example of believing in the plan.


We spent the remainder of the week swimming in the pool, ocean, collecting shells, exploring, checking out the pier, the boys went charter fishing and Maddie and I went to Sea World for the day.  Our goal was to create memories, and we scored many touchdowns during the week doing just that.  It was hard to leave, warm weather was only part of the reason.  The other reason was the reality awaited us back at home. 


We spent a few days with my family on the other side of the state, celebrating Christmas and “Ringing” in the New Year.  We got home in time for Matt’s second chemo treatment Wednesday.  This time around Matt is getting hit a bit harder with the side effects.  Like most players on the field, when you get knocked down you get back up.  As a good team member you also help build your teammates up and ease their pain.  So that is what we are currently doing.  Matt is resting and I am making every minute count the last couple days of break.


I had mentioned MD Anderson at the start of this very long update.  We are headed to Houston, Texas February 3-8, 2019.  Everything fell into place, once again not by chance.  We have care for our kids that will keep their days as normal as possible, we have lodging, we booked our flights and now are eager to explore our medical options for Matt.  We have been told that MD Anderson is one of the best Cancer Hospitals around.  We have been told what might take three months here, will be done in 3-5 days there.  We have been told that we will have long days of testing, evaluations and consulting.  We are ready for all of this.  Cancer will not score again!


A year ago I thought I had faith.  What I know now is, my faith was only at surface level.  Many times fear dictated my course, my choices, not believing that there was a plan.  Oh how I liked to tweek “the plan” for my desired outcome.  A year later, so much has changed.  Our family not only embraces the mantra Faith over Fear, but all of us are trying to walk the talk.   I believe that has and will continue to fuel us with strength and belief in “The Plan.”  The faith and strength we have been given is truly a gift.  Speaking of gifts, I am continuously thanking God for the many gifts that we have been given.  Gifts that cost nothing, but are worth more than gold.  There was no better gift than seeing my kids smile and laugh in Florida. There was no better gift than seeing Matt relaxed, as if cancer had never challenged us to this game.  There was no better gift than receiving a call back from MD Anderson so quickly.  There is no greater gift than sitting with the one you love and enjoying the peaceful moments.  There is no better gift than sitting next to a woman on the beach that inspires you to continue the fight.  There is no better gift than the encouraging words, prayers and support you all continue to send our way.  There is no better gift than witnessing your kids empathy towards others because you never know what type of battle they are fighting, there is no better gift then waking up and knowing you have been given another day to make memories.  There is no better gift than to feel the love we have felt.


 I encourage you to look for the gifts around you.   You will feel a new richness and in many ways spoiled.  I am sure you feel like you have read a book by now, so until next time!


Faith Over Fear,


Team Fouch

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Merry Christmas to all!  I hope your day was filled with joy and blessings!  We have been busy making memories, forgetting about the “C” word for a few days and spending some much needed time together in the sun.  Last Wednesday Matt started his new treatment!  That means we got the ball back!  We are ready as ever to score again and get our momentum back.  However, we are on a break so I will be sure to fill you all in when we resume play!  
Continue to send those positive vibes and prayers!  
Faith Over Fear!
Love to all, 
Team Fouch

Journal entry by Jill Fouch

Sometimes you fall short of a first down by inches.  One way to look at this instead of “we didn’t score” is we can give the offense a much needed break and showcase our tough defense!  Well for Team Fouch, that is true after today.  
As many of you know, Matt had a biopsy last week to remove three lymph nodes in his chest.  We were very hopeful that those nodes that lit up were due to an infection.  However, the results told us today that it is cancer. Fortunately it is the same colon cancer cells found in his liver, colon and now in his chest.  We would lie if we said we weren’t somewhat heartbroken and numb.  However, like warriors do, we will get back up, and pursue our victory.  Matt will start a new line of treatment in two weeks. I have no doubt our strong defense will force a turnover!   We are thankful that there is a plan and we will choose our Faith over Fear!  The kids continue to struggle in their own unique ways.  Please keep them in your prayers. They are really trying not to make “cancer”, the “C” word as Z calls it, a daily focus.  As always we will continue to play hard, embrace changes in plays as they are needed and head towards another touchdown.  We will also let our FAITH be bigger than our fears, feel free to join us! 
Love to all!
Team Fouch

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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