Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Being those hands

(This is Kristin Baldwin posting. Since Kristen and I share the same first name it gets a little confusing so up front I thought I'd clarify :)

I started this post over a month ago and it finally feels like the right time to post it and ask for your helping hands again. A year ago, almost to the day, the Baumgartens received the news that Josh's MRI showed a brain tumor. That day began a new season of life for Josh, for Kristen, for Kimball, for McKay, and for Benson; the season of  radiation, chemo, prayers, and cherishing moments. Sweet baby Eliza only knows this season of life. Just the other day Kristen was telling me how Eliza is right at home at the Huntsmen Center and loves her visits from the nurses and Doctors who have watched her grow over the last 10 months. I'd better stop writing about those kids because I love them like family and this last year those sweet boys had too much reality mixed in with their precious boyhood.

This blog was set up by friends because of Josh's diagnosis of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme. But I am posting today about Josh's beautiful wife Kristen.

Kristen has MS. Can you believe it? Read that again. Kristen was recently diagnosed with M.S., Mulitple Sclerosis [a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.] (Click HERE to link to Kristen's post about her diagnosis)

So M.S. Really?!? REALLY!?! The emphasis on REALLY!?! is not so much meant to be negative as much as I'm being real. If you know Josh and Kristen or have only just learned about them on this blog then you know they are the best of people, the best that I know of. For them both to be diagnosed with life debilitating diseases with no known cure is in my book unbelievable. Do I really need to explain why even more than before they could use your helping hands?

Here is what I am asking. Think about how you could help. Think about who you know who are in a position to help. Are you in a position now or will you be in the next few months to put together and execute some kind of fundraiser? A bake sale, a garage sale, a lemonade stand? It could be anything and anytime. Let your kids brain storm and do it. They will get so much more out of it than whatever time and effort put in. Dollars and cents add up. Just imagine how the dollars and cents in bills would add up with one parent fighting for life with cancer treatment and one parent taking on a lifetime of MS treatment. Any idea you have and any amount donated WILL help. Go for it!

Isn't it amazing that in the last ten months this blog has had nearly 16,000 visitors? Of course many of those are the same loving friends and family eager to check up on Josh and his beautiful family on a regular basis. Isn't it also amazing that hundreds of people, from strangers to the Baumgarten family to their closest family and friends, came together in so many fundraising efforts during a recession and challenging financial time in the Uintah Basin to help with Josh's treatment costs? If you have followed this blog I know you've been touched as I have time and time again as Kristen and Josh have expressed their faith in Jesus Christ and their gratitude and awe for the love and support shown them.

Now let's be honest. If a member of your family began to experience serious health problems and was diagnosed with cancer would you be prepared financially? What if that person provided the primary income for a growing family? I can only speak for myself and I KNOW that my husband and I would be sunk. If we both needed lifelong medical treatment there is no word to describe how much more than SUNK we would be.

Here is how I feel. Josh deserves the best medical treatment available to him and more. He is getting it, for a pretty penny yes but thankfully he is getting what is available. Kristen deserves the best medical treatment available to her and more. Thankfully she is getting the best medical care currently available for MS. I have not seen what their monthly costs are for Doctor visits, treatment, prescriptions, etc and I never plan to but I would bet my very life that if we only knew our jaw would drop and I for one would probably need some air. On top of that I know that it is Kristen's hope  that she'll be able to explore all natural treatment options available to her and Josh in addition to their medical care. One she mentioned was $5,000 just to have the initial consult and preliminary tests done. $5,000 just to be tested? Yikes is my first thought but can you really put a price on health, time and quality of life? Natural options are cash only as you would guess. I desperately want to get some cash in their hands so when the time is right these hopes can become the reality for both of them.

Anyone can donate using the paypal link in the upper right hand corner. It is completely safe and even if you only have a few dollars you can still use this option.

Please share this blog with your friends list on facebook, your email list, or whatever form of communication you use most. We are in a recession folks. I know exactly what that means for us average people but we can all do a little can't we?? For some that little bit might be just sharing this blog with others; an act of kindness that only takes a few minutes. And there are some people out there in a position to do a bit more than a little so help me spread the word and reach them.

The Baumgartens have never asked for any fundraising or help in this way but I know they have been the answer to the prayers of many, including myself and I would guess many of you. This is one way we can try to lighten their unimaginable burden and perhaps be the hands of God in answering their prayers.

 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back from vacation to massive laundry, marathon cancer appointments, and making it home

We flew back from California last Sunday, and after some debating decided to send the boys home with my parents since Josh had appointments starting Monday morning.
Again, no secret as to how much I LOVE laundry, and one of things that gives me anxiety about going on vacation is the fact that our family is growing and I have to do laundry EVERYDAY to keep it from getting out of control.
We came home with EIGHT loads of laundry. Count them, yes, eight loads for a six day vacation. I managed to squeeze one load into another load since there wasn't another washer close by. But, all the loads got done at the same time and I decided that in my next life, I want to have multiple washers as to be able to do massive amounts of laundry at one time. Maybe it's my lot in life to open a laundromat where I can reserve a row of washers just for me.

See? Doesn't that look like heaven? The chance to get it all done at the same time?

Monday while Eliza and I were waiting for Josh to get his lab work done, we met the most awesome people. One man with colon cancer and mets all over was positive about his Stage IV cancer, and ironically his F-bomb cancer shirt didn't offend me the way the F word usually does. In fact, as bad as it sounds, it was relatable, and I got a kick out it. I told him and we got talking. He is awesome. Dov, you inspired me. After meeting you, I will never be the same. I met a guy, Max, with melanoma who is hopeful at the opportunity to be in remission, two more women, one who is a cancer survivor and one still battling. I also met a woman who has just barely been going through all the emotion and trauma that comes initially with her husband's cancer diagnosis. I literally saw myself in her eyes. Lou, if you are reading this. You are not alone. I hope you are feeling better than you were a week ago. My heart goes out to you. I KNOW exactly how you're feeling. It isn't easy. Our hearts and prayers are with all our new friends from the Huntsman. I particularly want to share one blog from Carri, who is a cancer survivor hoping to adopt. Please check out her amazing blog!! It is called From Healing to Hope.  
Here are some cutie pie picture of Eliza watching all the action and later waiting patiently at the Huntsman's infusion waiting room. Poor baby is going to think that hospital and clinic are her second home especially with all the attention she gets every time we go. They have watched her grow and when they know we are coming, there are always a handful of specific nurses that come to see her.
Watching our new friend Dov as he was talking to his mom.

Passing the time reading a book.
Monday night, Josh had an MRI and then Tuesday morning an appointment with Dr. Colman and staff. Then, that afternoon he had an infusion for the Avastin study. The appointment went well. Josh's MRI didn't show any changes which means we can chalk up another few months for stability. I am pretty sure that every time we go Dr. Cohen and Dr. Colman are more and more convinced that I am a complete nut-case, but seriously-- I can not silence my concerns. Remember how I said that I am not the quiet type? I think it embarrasses Josh, but I am not sorry for it. He is my husband, and it is our family, our children, our life, our future. 

I want to live a long and happily-ever-after life with Josh. I have never noticed so much how wonderful it is to see a couple in their golden years sitting together at church or walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand. I guess I always took it for granted, as I felt that it would inevitably be Josh and I one day. Now when I see it, I notice the sweetness and rarity (especially with divorce rates perpetually on the rise). My hope is that one day I will be able to sit in church with my aged husband, admiring his gray hair as he puts his arms around my hunched shoulders. In an effort to achieve that, I have to make sure that the doctors are aware of anything that might be relevant. If that makes me a nut-case and embarrassing: so be it. Despite all my questions, the reality was that he is still stable. And, ultimately, no change is good news. 

After our long couple of days at the Huntsman we were finally able to come home. It felt so good to finally be in our own home and sleep in our own bed. As great as vacation was, I was happy to be here. Probably more-so because the laundry was all done! ;)