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

Do you appreciate staying connected to Matt like this?

A $30 donation powers a site like Matt's for one month. Help keep CaringBridge online for them and for you.