Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Busy Blessings!

The demands of a being busy is often a mixed blessing.  Are we often exhausted?  Yep.  Do we probably look like we need a nap most days? You bet.  But when our time is spent running to doctor appointments . . .  physical therapy . . . school . . . church . . . here and there . . . it occupies that part of your mind that often is filled with worry, concern and doubt.


Although MacKale is past surgery and working on healing his leg, he is still in chemo . . . he still continues to fight  . . . and being busy often means that we can all spend less time concerned about cancer and more time focused on living.


That blessing of being busy has never been more true than these last couple of weeks.  Coming off from his 'drag your levels into the ground' chemo, we were surprisingly busy.  Oh we were holding our breath almost every second of the day and night trying to avoid an additional hospital stay, but avoid it we did!  Mac was able to attend school a couple of days, church, physical therapy and more . . .a lot more!  

It was back in either November or December that my brother Terry (Uncle Moff to the boys!) called and asked me if Mac would want to go to the Big Ten championship in March.  You have to understand, we can't make plans.  Remember, we have good intentions, but never plans.  It's just not possible to know when or if MacKale will end up back in the hospital for some mystery fever or something else.  So I said, of course he would love to go, but you know . . .

Uncle Moff secured tickets understanding that there was a good chance it wouldn't happen, but he would have them anyway.  And the closer we got to championship time . . . the more it looked like MacKale was going to make it . . . 

And he did . . .



It was an amazing weekend that he and Mike will never forget.  It was busy and crazy and so wonderful.



He got to spend some precious time with his dad and Uncle Moff.



And thanks to the good people at Dr. Pepper, Todd Bowen and Kevin Benefiel, who provided tickets for Mac and Mike, they had a front row seat to MSU's Big Ten Championship weekend. These gentlemen were so thoughtful. I can't even begin to express our gratitude for their kindness.


Yea, I kind of think they couldn't have had better seats if they were sitting on the announcers laps.



Both Mac and Mike couldn't believe how close they were to the action.


At one point, the MSU cheerleaders came and found MacKale.  They had been following his story and they were more than happy to snap a photo with him.  What I found out through an email later that evening is that the cheerleading squad's coach, Eylse, has a sister who was an organ donor and had also helped someone just like MacKale was helped, with a lower limb cadaver bone.  For me, it was such a gift to be able to thank someone for such a selfless gift even if her gift didn't go directly to MacKale.  While MacKale didn't receive her sister's bone, he received a similar gift from someone else and Eylse was able to see first hand what that precious gift can mean to someone like MacKale.  I told her how I struggled with praying for a cadaver bone, and Elyse assured me that, for her family, donating her sister's organs was the easiest decision they had to make.  It was incredible to make the connection, and I am so grateful that she was able to reach out to us.  She gave us the gift of peace and perspective that can only come from a donor family.  Thank you Elyse! 


Of course, there were some other special folks he was able to spend time with as well.  The Costellos and Matt's fiance, Anna, are always so generous with their time and incredibly kind.  I'm not sure if Matt realized when he befriended MacKale that he would ended up having to share his family with Mac or if his family realized they would have to share Matt with MacKale, but, somehow, I think God knew what he was doing.   

What an incredible opportunity to cheer on his beloved Spartans as they became the Big10 champions.  I can promise you, this is some of the best medicine MacKale could ever have.  


Matt was incredibly thoughtful and found MacKale right away after the victory and even shared a piece of the net with him.

I wish I could bottle that smile and the excitement in his voice when he called to tell me all about it.  It was priceless . . . and more than we could have hoped for.  .  . all because of the kindness of others who made this experience possible and special for MacKale.  How do you ever repay that?  You can't . . . you simply look for opportunities to pay it forward.  And that's what we promise to do!


Definitely a blessed and busy weekend that was the best medicine for this boy!


The day they got back it was on to the blood drive that the local Jr. Rotarian, Interact and Youth Advisory groups were putting on.  The 55 units that they were able to collect was divided into three separate units each and end up helping over 160 people.


Our hearts were so full, I thought we would burst.  160 lives helped!  To all showed up or helped out, thank you.




And then, it was time for a different kind of 'busy' and we had to go back . .  . back to the hospital and back to chemo.

Mac with his favorite hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Mitchell.  Photo by Chris Clark


 It's a process going in for chemo. . . access the port, start fluids, meet with doctors, move to your room, update your meds, hydrate, wait, and start chemo.   MacKale had some discomfort the first 24 hours this time around, but was wide awake by 2pm the second day to catch the Spartan's NCAA game against Middle Tennessee.

Photo by Chris Clark

Yep!  It was heartbreaking.  But probably not for the reasons you think.  MacKale's heart broke for his friend.  He was worried about Matt.  MacKale loves this team, unconditionally!  Would it have been nice to have had the chance to watch them play basketball for the next several weeks . . . something to keep us busy and divert our focus from cancer? Absolutely!  But disappointed in his team?  Never!


You should probably know, neither I nor Mike are MSU alumni, and I, personally, have very little loyalty to any sports team, but our family will forever be Spartan fans because of these young men and, yes, specifically because of Matt.  Right now, I understand that those young men are hurting, because maybe they feel like they've let down their families, their friends, and fans.   This is so far from the truth, though.   They may even feel like they have ruined their 'legacy.'  I would argue, however, that the 'footprint' they leave behind is much more than this one game.   We feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to share in the journey of their basketball season this year.  Their legacy, however, is not only everything they've accomplished on the court, but, even more so, what they have accomplished off from it. They have been simply the best medicine we could have ever hoped for MacKale, and that's a pretty great legacy if you ask me.  Yes, they are amazing athletes, but they are even GREATER young men.   How many athletic programs can say that?  Coach Izzo and their parents should be commended for the impact they made.



And  so when the game was over and our tears were dried, I could see that 'impact' made on MacKale come full circle.


In true Spartan fashion, MacKale picked himself up and immediately was compelled to go 'play' with his little buddy next door.  She's two.  She loves 'Mac.' And the nurses purposefully placed MacKale next to her room so she could be close, to him, but she's isolated due to treatment and can't come out and play.   So this is what he did with her.  .  .  You tell me if this isn't a full circle moment . . . He's had some great role models to follow.

All of these things that keep us busy, also keep us moving forward and working through this journey. These busy days are a blessing,  but eventually the quite moments do catch up to you.   And it's in the darkness of the night that 'worry' finds you the most.  Worrying about tomorrow is an occupational hazard for a parent of a child with cancer . . . In those dark hours of the night at the hospital, your mind drags you into the depths of doubt and you can only pray that exhaustion will eventually take over and relieve you from despair and worry by granting you the gift of sleep.  It's in those quiet moments of restlessness that we pray the hardest for guidance and peace for it's then that we remember that we are still fighting a battle, and we realize that this journey is a long one, but it's also during those times that we can reflect and give thanks for those busy days.  The busy days that keep us moving forward, allow us to interact with friends and loved ones and remind us that we are NOT alone! We are blessed. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." -Matthew 6:34

Please continue to pray for our family.  Specifically pray for the chemo to kill the cancer in MacKale's body and never return, allowing him to heal and grow and become a blessing to others as he has been blessed by so many wonderful, caring people in his own life during this journey.


Pray for our little boys as they are often separated from either Mike or I and MacKale. They are the unsung heroes of this journey.  They are flexible and funny and forgiving and resilient.  Even when I only have the energy to serve a bowl of cereal for dinner, they are grateful and understanding.  I'm so proud of them and thankful for their precious snuggles.


Finally, pray that we have many more busy, productive days and that we find peace in the quiet moments, wisdom when we don't have the answers, and that we learn to trust without question whatever it is that God has in store for us.







20 comments:

  1. Marsha, this Easter I will continue to pray for your sweet family. As I count my own blessings I will look for ways to be a blessing to others. Your faith and energy are inspiring. :0)
    ~Kathy

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  2. I'm very glad that you posted. Of course I keep you in my prayers and on my mind. I wonder how each day is and how you are doing. I agree the MSU team, coaches, and cheerleaders are a wonderful thing for your family. It reminds me of that song that says, "Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader." All of them have been a cheerleader for your family. . . and also your family has been a cheerleader for them too. What goes around, comes around. My blessings continue to be poured out to all of you. YOU can do this. Mackale can do this. Spring is here, time for renewal and rebirth. Hugs to all of you.
    Patty

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    1. You are the BEST Patty. Love you tons.
      Marsha

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  3. You brought me to tears once again! So many special moments to treasure. MacKale's trip to Indy, the kind words from Elyse, and that darling two-year old girl also undergoing treatment. What a mix of blessings and worries! I will certainly continue to pray for MacKale and your entire family.

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    1. So glad to have you in my life sweet friend.
      Marsha

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  4. Your family is so brave! I pray for all of you daily. God's peace, strength, and blessings on all of you! God's got this!

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  5. Of course we continue to pray for you. This morning, my prayer was particularly for your safe travel. May this round of chemo be another relatively smooth one. Thanks for sharing with all of us, Marsha. Hugs all around. Let us know if you need help while in GR

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  6. As every time I read your posts, I cry. They are so beautiful. Your love is perfect. Your boys are beautiful. Mackale gets his amazing grace and strength and beauty from him mom and dad. Your hearts are as amazing as Mac's smile. God bless you all for you are an inspiration to so many. Happy Easter! PK

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    1. You are very kind for keeping us in your prayers. Thanks PK.
      Marsha

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  7. Sending up prayers for you all over and over. You are such an amazing momma and MacKale is an incredible little boy <3

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    1. Keep those prayers coming sweet friend and squeeze that little darling of yours for me.
      Marsha

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  8. Thank you for the update. We continue to pray for Mac daily. Thinking of you always! xoxo

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    1. Thank you Melanie. Your prayers mean so much.
      Marsha

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  9. Marsha. I treasure your honesty through this unthinkable time of challenge. I'm sure that you reach deep and launder much of the specifics and that's what makes you our Marsha. I'm so glad to read each chapter that you've shared: the happy distractions, the meaningful interactions. You are a beacon to others -- a role I'm certain you would give up in a blink if possible. Please know that we continue to hold you closely in our prayers. Always seeking total health and a return to the every day ho-hum of taking for granted that cells are cooperative and doing the proper dance with life.

    Last week while we were in paradise on our island, I woke every morning and looked out into the depths of the ocean and prayed for each of you. As the tranquil waters glimmered in return, I couldn't help but feel that angels were listening. Directly.

    On this day of EASTER miracles, know that the entire host-of-heaven is holding you up. Offering support and encouragement as you face the doubts, the uncertainties, the unknowns and all of the realities at hand. I wish you peace. I wish you calm. I wish you jelly beans of giggles. I wish you courage when yours is deflated.

    Ever onward. Ever ever ever onward.

    Debbie

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    1. Thanks friend. Love you to the moon and back.
      Marsha

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