Monday, March 30, 2015

Uncharted Waters

Greetings friends and family,

There's a lot of adjusting going on in the Webb house.  Nobody likes change and we are no different.  We've done a great job of going with the flow, but the twins are not old enough to fully process what's going on in Kendra's body.  We've explained in as much honest detail as possible what cancer is and how the doctors will work to remove it from her body.  They may not understand how radiation works (neither do I) but they both miss spending time with Kendra.  If there was one thing I would do differently about these past three weeks it would be to give Easton and Layla more time together and individually with Kendra.

Starting tonight we are implementing a new policy around the Webb house to include more mommy-child time.  That means reading books, playing card games, and maybe even watching a movie.  Our master bedroom has become a very busy place now that Kendra spends 95% of her time in bed there.  the piece we didn't adjust yet is including the twins in that space.  Even with Ouma and Oupa to spend time with, there is just no substitute for Mommy.

One of the upsides of this situation is that I've had loads of Daddy time.  I've picked them up and dropped them off from school more in the past three weeks than in the past three months combined.  We stopped by Taco Bell after school one day because they wanted a snack.  I realize their nachos are barely considered "food" because of all the processed junk, but we had a kale smoothie from Jamba Juice right before this so it balances out.

Easton and Layla are still in the coloring phase of childhood.  The magic of the internet allows for them to sit with me at the computer, tell me what scene or character they want to color, and I print it on my computer.  Layla likes Disney princesses like Ariel and Easton likes disasters like the Hindenburg, volcanoes, and of course the Titanic.

We've received an amazing amount and variety of gifts from people.  Meals, flowers, boxes, cards, and even music.  My sister sent us a CD titled "Hope" and it has a full set of music to give us hope.  Sometimes that is all we have to hang onto.

In the middle of all this chaos and overwhelming, never ending task list I was given a couple of hours of "me time".  My buddy joined me for some mountain biking.  this is where things make sense.  A place where i'm in control of myself and the bike.  There is so much about life that I don't control.  That fact has never been more evident than right now.  But out here I just ride, sweat, breathe, persevere, and smile for a couple of hours.  The break was refreshing because at home I knew Kendra's mom and dad were taking care of her and the twins.

The reality of Kendra's life at home is indescribable.  What we have is 586 pages plus several additional reports that paint a picture of Kendra's condition that is not very pretty.  My limited medical understanding is so insignificant that I can't even decipher what it all means.

The pills and medical paraphernalia around our master bedroom makes it look more like a Walgreen's pharmacy than a warm, relaxing space.  

These days are going by so fast I can't even believe it's been 4 weeks since the sneeze that broke Kendra's back and sent us to the hospital.  Watching Kendra in pain is the hardest part of my day.  I'm mad.  I can handle housework, more kid responsibilities or taking care of myself, but I get mad when I see Kendra in pain even when she is just lying perfectly still in bed.  I don't know who is the target of my anger or frustration.  Certainly not Kendra because she did nothing to deserve or warrant her current condition.  God doesn't cause these situations because he is good all the time and the enemy is the one who came to kill steal and destroy.

This is an unfinished, unedited post because things are happening so fast that I don't even have time to work through or process my thoughts and feelings.  doesn't mean I'm right or wrong, just makes the blog posts less polished.  for now it's what I have so i'll go with it!

See you soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cancer Answers... Finally.

This past week we finally have answers. This 586 page document plus a few additional ones gives us a clearer picture of what the rest of 2015 holds for Kendra as we walk through the process of not only getting cancer out of her body, but getting her back to life.

We met with all kinds of doctors lately who are top-notch in the cancer field.  She's getting the best care with the best equipment available to average Joes like us.  We consider these doctor visits to be "doctor dates" where we get a few hours to be alone, together, and focused with no kids.  We get to listen to music, hold hands, dream talk about the future, and just spend time together.  I would much rather spend this time on vacation somewhere, but given the current circumstances I am excited for her doctor appointments.

Kendra is diagnosed with stage 4b clear cell carcinoma cancer that developed in her ovaries and spread through her blood. Her ovaries were removed as a part of the hysterectomy. However, one malignant tumor is still inside her fractured T12 vertebrae and two more malignant tumors were diagnosed in her liver.

That's the bad news, but what I really want to share is the good news!

Here is what 2015 looks like:

2 WEEKS - Kendra will undergo CyberKnife radiation treatment starting Wednesday for two weeks of focused laser radiation on the tumors. After this, all three tumors will be gone along with her back pain. Her vertebrae is healing and will not require surgery or repair. (I'm writing this in faith believing it will be reality).

24 WEEKS - Then she'll have 24 weeks of chemotherapy (once per week).  We have no idea of the effects or expectations for her quality of life, but we're praying for her body to respond well and the cancer to go into remission.

8 WEEKS - Then she'll have 8 weeks of general radiation for her whole body to make sure all of the cancer is gone.

We're planning an awesome party on December 1st, 2015 when all of this is done. Although, I'm open to having the party earlier if her healing occurs before then.

Here's a list of what to pray for as we jump into this journey:
- tumors to disappear
- no injury to her spinal cord during laser radiation
- no new lesions or tumors
- effective chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells
- complete healing of her T12 vertebrae
- back pain to be gone
- continued increase of peace, rest, and strength for Kendra

In order for this to become a reality she needs a miracle from the God who made her and loves her. If you believe in Jesus and His healing power then agree with me for her healing. It IS God's will for Kendra to be whole and healthy. It is always God's will because he is a God of restoration and recovery and love and life. Nobody needs to ask or wonder if it is God's will. The answer is "yes"! The only question is whether we will choose to believe it is true.

Healing is not about praying the right prayer with the right theology with the right inflection in your voice with the right scripture verse attached to it. Even if you do those things and passionately mean it, that will not produce healing. It is simply the authority of Jesus and the power of his presence that produces healing. All that is required is for men and women who are rightly related to God and empowered by his spirit to command healing to come into her body. It really is that simple. Religion is what makes things complicated. Religion is knowing about God but not really knowing Him. However, relationship with God and hearing his voice is what changes our reality. One word from him will change everything. Listen. Be still. Receive. Rest. Surrender. I didn't suddenly become religious because my world fell apart. I am just resting more and becoming more aware of my
dependence on God as the source of all life and aliveness.

On a personal note, I figured out how I "feel" about all this. I feel connected. I feel more deeply connected to Kendra on a level of compassion, love, and relationship than ever before. We've laughed more in the past three weeks than in the previous year. We've spent more time in silence and stillness holding one another. We've cried together in the uncertainty and unknowns. I can't wait to be with her and I miss her when we are not together. We are connecting with each other in a way that can only be experienced in the middle of difficulty.

You never know what you really believe until you have to believe it. My faith is not in the government or my insurance company or my bank account or the doctors. My faith is not even in what God can do for Kendra. My faith is in God, who he says he is, and who he says Kendra is. This is what Todd White calls "Godfindence" or confidence in God. I'm at a place of peace where I don't have to strive anymore or try hard. I don't have to make stuff happen. I'm at a place where God gets to be strong and I get to benefit from his strength. You can feel free to try harder and strive more or you can allow God to be powerful as we get to experience His love, grace, and mercy.
I don't know how this year will go. I don't have God figured out. There are many things I don't understand and never will, but I'm ok with that. I have you, my friends and family, to stand with us and believe with us. Your encouragement, prayers, and support are extremely valuable!

See you soon!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Perseverance Defined

Greetings friends and family,

These past few weeks were incredibly challenging and difficult to navigate.  Every day was uncharted territory.  Many decisions were made without a full understanding of the data.  Even so, life goes on for the world around us including the twins.   I have about two weeks worth of pics and stories, but I can't figure out how to catch up all in one post so I just gave myself permission to start fresh.  I'll stick to the past two days.  The word of the day for us is "perseverance". 

Easton and Layla have been in golf lessons for a couple of months.  Every Friday I take them across town where they learn the game of golf with about 20 other kids.  They have never played a real game of golf during their time of practicing on the driving range and putting green.  That is, until Saturday.  Part of the golf lesson package is a free day of golfing.  I packed up the twins and our golf gear with all the excitement and hype I could muster because I want them to have a positive experience on their first round of golf.  They were excited even more than me.  

We arrived at the perfect time to jump onto the first tee box and play without being pressured to speed up.

Easton had one par on the 9-hole executive course and lots of bogeys.  At the end he said, "Dad, you and I should be called 'the bogey boys'".

Layla's clubs are a bit too long, but she'll grow into them.  Her form is lacking, but she had fun and learned a whole bunch about etiquette on the green.  She wanted to quit after the 7th hole because it was a little hot, but we finished all nine holes and persevered!

Proof we made it through their first round of golf together.  We persevered! Nobody was injured and there were plenty of memorable moments.  Ever since the twins were born I had visions of doing things like this with them.  The golf outing was 7 years in the making and it was as rewarding as I've been dreaming.

On Friday afternoon I took the twins out for a rock climbing and hiking adventure.  We traversed the side of the mountain and found the bat cave again.  I think we are supposed to stay on the path and where we went is considered off limits, but there no signs saying, "stay on the trail!"  The rocks we climbed on were probably a little more dangerous with exposure than I prefer, but they did great with following directions and being safe.  I told them to give a mighty bear face and this is the result.

The difficulty of climbing we did is hard to describe, but this picture shows what "scrambling" is.  the rock pile behind them is where we climbed after this picture was taken.  We had to find ways up and over different rock formations like this.  Two fun-filled hours of climbing up, across, and down the mountain.  Our goal was to find the bat cave again and didn't stop scrambling until we rediscovered it.  We persevered!

I remember book fairs as a kid, but I thought those went the way of the dial-up modem.  Not true.  The twins took some of their own spend money (hooray) and bought a few books at school.  Easton chose "100 Most Disgusting Things On The Planet".  That's what happens when you give a seven-year-old boy some money and the freedom to buy whatever book he wants.  We've had some great evening bed time readings lately...

When Easton was about six months old Kendra and I had a conversation about one day when Easton would join me on the mountain bike trail on his own bike to ride together.  I thought he was a year or so away, but as we were hiking on the trail to look for the bat cave Easton said, "when can I go riding with you on my own bike, Dad?"  it was music to my ears.  He requested we ride the trail we were on because it was relatively cross-country (flat).  I told him it was up to him whenever he wants to ride.  The next day we loaded up our two bikes and hit the trail.

The entrance to the trail is a steep, short downhill section.  You can probably guess where I'm going here.  I rode down it and then he followed me.  Before I had the chance to say, "stay on your brakes!" he crashed at the bottom in cloud of dirt and sand.  He cried, I comforted him and apologized for not giving him more specific instructions.  he dusted himself off and we continued on the trail.  We persevered!  We rode out to a half-way point and I offered to ride back to the van or keep going.  He said, "let's keep going, Dad.  I'm having fun."

He did a lot of hike-a-bike where he pushed his bike up hills and walked it down some hills, but overall he did extremely well.  I was super proud of him for riding so well and told him in several different ways.

Layla still wears pull-ups every night.  If you would have told me when the twins were born that I'd be buying diapers for 7 years, I wouldn't have believed you.  Yet, here I am with a daughter who sleeps so soundly that she doesn't even wake up to go pee.  We've been working on it by giving her less water close to bed time, requiring her to go pee before bed, and even waking her up before I go to bed occasionally.

I bought her a very nice snowflake necklace at a 90% discount at Khol's.  A few months ago i told her if she goes three nights in a row without peeing that she can have it.  She finally did it!  We are on the right track to a diaper-free home.  We persevered!

We are holding up well at the casa de Webb considering the adjustments required to accommodate Kendra's new "temporary" normal.  It's a day-by-day process we are anxiously walking through.  We will persevere!

See you soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kendra's update

Howdy friends and family,

I'm posting this as a separate blog because I have a bunch of other pics and content to share related to the twins.  After all, this is called "adventures with twins", right?

This is the only picture I've taken of Kendra within the past week that she will allow me to post.

Kendra is able to sit, stand, and walk (slowly).
Her pain is manageable by ibuprofen with zero narcotics!
The turtle shell back brace isn't stylish, but it's functional.
She is tired of lying in bed so much, but she's obeying doctor's orders very well.
Many people graciously offer to help, but I have no idea what we need. The meals provided by our church family have been incredibly helpful. The flowers, gifts, calls, texts, visits, prayers, and love are overwhelmingly wonderful.

Here is the bizarre timeline of where we were and where we are going.
16 days ago - admitted to hospital due to back pain.
15 days ago - MRI and CT scan showed a tumor in her T12 vertebrae and fracture from the tumor
14 days ago - Ultrasound discovered a tumor in her pelvis
13 days ago - Transferred to St. Josephs hospital
12 days ago - prepare for hysterectomy surgery
11 days ago - hysterectomy with removal of 15cm cancerous ovarian tumor
10 days ago - recover from surgery and rest
9 days ago - biopsy of vertebral bone
8 days ago - discharged from the hospital to come home!
7 days ago - Pathology report confirms the ovarian cancer was stage "1C"
3 days ago - MRI scan for abdomen
1 day ago - Doctor discovered a lesion on her liver

MONDAY - Biopsy surgery of the lesion on her liver
TUESDAY - Meet with radiation oncologist to review treatment plan for her T12 vertebrae and (potentially) liver. Probably 3 CyberKnife treatments over 2 weeks.
WEDNESDAY - Meet with Gynecologic Oncologist to review treatment plan for Chemotherapy. Probably 5-6 months
THURSDAY - Kendra's Dad, Steven, arrives!
FRIDAY - Meet with Neurosurgeon to review the recovery plan for her vertebrae
Beyond this is just dense fog with occasional rays of sunshine

Kendra's Status:
Ovarian cancer : GONE! Successful hysterectomy with no complications. 15 cm tumor removed completely with no free-floating cancer cells.
Broken T12 vertebrae : We believe healing is in process. pain is decreasing. Kendra will wear the back brace for 6 months
Bone cancer : We believe 3 treatments of CyberKnife radiation will last 2 weeks and completely eradicate it.
Liver cancer : We believe for deLIVERance. We know there is a lesion with cells that look suspicious. Maybe they are wearing sunglasses and a hoodie?
Pray in agreement with us by believing for:
- the biopsy procedure on Monday to go smoothly
- the pathology report for her liver to have favorable results
- the doctors to have wisdom for the treatment planning
- Kendra's pain remains low and goes away as her vertebrae heals.

Here's a brief guide about how I'm peaceful in the middle of life turning upside down for the 4 Webbs:
I know my role as the husband. This includes loving Kendra exactly as she is where she is and in the way she best receives love.
I believe in God and that He is good. all the time. He desires to heal Kendra and the only limit to God's power is our faith and belief in Him.
I believe this is temporary. Kendra's healing is a work in progress towards complete restoration of health.
I refuse to allow my circumstances to determine my happiness.
I have doubts occasionally because of the facts, but always end up back at the truth.
I rarely talk to Kendra about being cancer-free. I'm not in denial, but that's not the goal. She is not on this Earth to just be cancer-free. over the past few weeks my heart is focused on who Kendra is and not her experiences. We talk about going to the beach again. We talk about water slides and roller coasters. We talk about family hikes and someday conquering Camelback mountain as a family. We talk about our hopes and dreams for Easton and Layla. We talk about the future knowing she has one and we are all in it together.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mommy is Home

Greetings friends and family,

I don't ever want to take a picture like this again.

My sphere of responsibility and influence is relatively small when compared to CEOs and kings.  I have Kendra, my twins, my job, my ministry roles, and a handful of relationships.  That's about it.  The one person I'm most responsible for is Kendra.  Above everything else in life she is my priority.  That's why seeing her in pain or troubled or frustrated is extremely difficult for me to experience.  She is her own independent person and individual, apart from me, but my role as a husband is to provide a covering for her where she can become the person she was created to be.  I love to see her blossom and grow and mature and experience the freedom of being funny and silly.  All of the ways she expresses herself must have a platform or safe space to happen.  A hospital is one of the most difficult places to create this type of atmosphere.

That picture shows me doing the best I can as a husband.  I can't fight cancer (no one can in their own strength) but I can love on Kendra and build her confidence that everything is going to be OK.

I sat around in the waiting room for more hours this past week than I wanted, but I made the most of the stillness and isolation.  I rested.  I wasn't striving.  there is nothing to strive for.  Many people i've talked too are so bent on "doing" something to fix the situation but it turns into a hamster wheel that tires them out.  I have no desire to wear myself out trying to figure out something to do just because our culture says "do better and try harder".  That method of life produces stress, worry, and heart attacks.  It's not that I don't care.  I really do!  I just realize the limits of my human capabilities and choose to rest in knowing what is God's part and what's my part.  (see first picture of this post for an image of what is my part).  I rest, wait, pray, believe, agree, encourage.  When that list becomes who I am instead of just what I do, then my role as a husband is very clear.

I asked Layla if she wanted to dress up as spider-girl and go surprise Mommy.  She immediately said, "yes!"  I asked Easton and he said, "nooooooooo!  People will stare at me. "  I have no idea when he decided his value is determined by people around him, but we will definitely be working on this in the near future.  Anyway, he finally agreed.  We dressed up, drove to the hospital and made our way through the corridors towards Kendra's room.  Staff and visitors were taking pictures, giving us high-fives and smiling (or chuckling) at our silliness.  We walked in Kendra's room and the 5 seconds of joy and laughter was worth the entire effort.

Kendra was able to go for a few laps around her hospital floor.  The 4 Webbs were reunited as superheros as we walked...  slowly...  down the halls.  The thrill of the week for me was holding her hand and walking together.  A few days before this picture was taken she passed out from the pain of a fractured vertebrae.  Here she is smiling and walking with tolerable pain.  This is a miracle.

I spent so much time in the hospital over the past week I created this top ten list in about 5 minutes off the top of my head.  Here's what I learned:
10. I know way more about cancer than I ever wanted to.
9. Nurses are some of the most unhealthy people I have ever seen.  Just a generalization... I know some health-conscious nurses.
8. The daily prayer over the loud speaker has less life than a morgue managed by Ben Stein.
7. The sleeping cots are rejects from WWII barracks. Bring an air matress
6. If you ever valued the privacy of your body, you won't care anymore after day 2
5. Bring your own box of tissues! The travel pack provided by the hospital costs about $36 each.
4. REM sleep is not valued at all, but precisely monitored. As soon as you enter REM sleep, a nurse will poke you with a needle or ask you game show questions.
3. Giving nicknames to the resident doctors such as "Mr. Straight-face" and "rookie" will not garner favor
2. when the Oncologist asks if you have anymore questions, she really doesn't want to hear your questions. She's just being nice.
1. The nurse's mobile stations run on Windows XP. I seriously doubt they are using cutting edge technology in surgery if the customer-visible computers are based on 14-YEAR-OLD software.

While Kendra was being discharged from the hospital she insisted I take her mom and the twins to the Cubs spring training game because I won free tickets through my work. That may sound crazy to think "her mother and husband went to a baseball game while she sat in the hospital?", but this is the kind of assurance and peace we have in Kendra's health and healing.  We had awesome seats in the shade with a buffet of food to stuff our faces.

We were up close and personal with the Cubs and Indians.  Easton said, "I can see their faces!" unlike the A's game where we were way up high in the nosebleed section of the outfield.

The Cubs mascot, whose name I don't even know, came by our little corner of the stadium.  He had a fishing rod and reel with a rubber spider on the hook-end of the line.  He bent over the railing and dangled it in the hair of the unsuspecting fans in the stands below.  We all laughed at their reactions, but I felt bad for those suffering from arachnophobia.  Anyway, we got to pose for a picture.  Afterwards Layla said, "I got 3 hugs, 2 high-fives, and picture!"  She measures her success in relational interactions.  Way to go Layla.  Easton said, "I wonder how his head stays on?"  Good job Mr. engineer...

Kendra is home! "Rest In Peace" doesn't have to be experienced in death. Kendra is resting in peace tonight and having the best sleep since she was admitted to the hospital seven days ago. Even though her body is worn down and wounded from surgery she is thrilled to be in her own bed.

The oncologists' best guess is for 19 weeks of treatment including CyberKnife radiation for her bone cancer, then chemo and radiation for her body. This is a long road to travel, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am believing for full recovery and restoration of Kendra's health.

Thankful report #1: The pathology report for her ovarian cancer tumor rates it as a 1C... whatever that means. My limited understanding is that the cancer did not spread beyond her ovaries. This is great news!

Thankful report #2: I am thankful her vertebrae fractured. Without it, we wouldn't have discovered the cancer in her ovaries until it metastasized to a more advanced stage.

Thankful report #3: The stage of her bone cancer is lower than first thought, but the full pathology report will not be available until early next week.

One afternoon I took the twins to the park.  It is so strange to be in the middle of life and also in the middle of Kendra's circumstances.  I'm standing in a park with dozens of parents and kids running around me and none of them know what I'm going through.  I don't know what any of them are going through.  For many situations in life I think from this perspective.  If a person is zoned out at a stop light in front of me and misses the green light or when a mother screams at her kid in a parking lot I don't get angry.  I think, "I wonder what that person may be going through?" It's a way of viewing humanity through eyes of compassion instead of judgment.  I hope others see me the same way, but whether they do or not doesn't define who I am or affect me.  I stopped being offended by anyone a long time ago.  I want to live an un-offendable life.

Anyway, the three of us had a blast at the park as usual.  They played with other kids for a while, but at one point went down the long twisty slide together head-first.  Layla slid down to the end, then Easton.  The two of them look very much like twins when they're upside down.

Kendra received several floral arrangements in the hospital and at home.  We spread them all over the house.  It's a metaphor for bringing life into Kendra's situation.  I'm not a big fan of flowers, but Kendra appreciates them very much.  Lots of color and fragrances and life going on around our house.

See you soon

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Life on Hold

Greetings friends and family,

My life completely stopped.  The 4 Webbs completely stopped.  I am amazed by how much of daily life I haven't cared about in days.  Not that I'm so depressed or overwhelmed that I can't manage things, but my mental focus and time are entirely focused on Kendra and her health.

Easton and Layla are on spring break, which is a good thing because they get a chance to hang out and relax.  I'm glad they are so young that spring break doesn't have much meaning yet or else it would be considered lame by any measure.  Even though Kendra's mom is here, we are not doing anything special like taking a trip up North to the snow or going adventuring.  it's no big deal though and the twins are very understanding.  We are just a family pulling together in a time of crisis and taking this one step at a time.

We don't have any family in town other than Kendra's brother and her wife.  My church family is my family here.  Our pastor and his wife came by before Kendra's surgery to spend the morning with us.  I'm honored to be so deeply embedded in the church that when something like this comes up that we are immediately completely surrounded and flooded with people who genuinely care about us.  I can't imagine going through this alone, but lucky for me I don't have to.  We are grateful for the relationships we've built over the last 7 years.

The past few days have been surreal.  To me that means it's like a twilight zone situation or Alice in Wonderland reality.  It's just weird.  I'm sleeping in my clothes on this thing:

At least it is by Kendra's side where we can talk and I can be there for her.  Ouma and I rotated nights of staying with Kendra.  Having her here is priceless.  I took the twins to visit Kendra because there is a fine line balance between overloading them with hospital hang-out time and being away so much that they feel disconnected.  Layla asked if she could dress up and I happily agreed to the idea.  We went through her costume options and when she came to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz she said, "Mom would love this because Dorothy say, 'There's no place like home.'"  She was exactly right...  Easton wore his robot shirt with tools because he wanted to fix mommy by letting the robots take out what shouldn't be there.

We walked into the hospital with smiles and happy hearts to receive all the kind compliments for how awesome the twins are.  At this point they still had no idea Ouma was here in town.  I had them stand in front of me while we waited for Ouma to arrive.

here's a short video clip of the happy reunion.  Layla turned around and saw Ouma before I had a chance to get the video rolling.

Mommy time was great as they had a chance to just be in her presence and talk about mundane things.  It's amazing how quickly they refill their tanks from just being around her.

Kendra and I are powerful influences whether we choose to be or not.  Our demeanor translates directly into Easton and Layla.  We are peaceful, confident, positive, and believing through this time.  Guess what Easton and Layla are like?  You guessed it.  They were not crying and falling apart and worried and whatever else could be possible responses to seeing their mommy bedridden in a hospital.

I especially enjoyed these brief moments where I could gently cuddle up with her in the tiny bed to love on her with hugs and kisses.  My reassurance and affection was for Kendra alone, but because I do this in front of the twins there is a side-benefit that they see everything is OK in spite of the surrounding or issues we are going through.

Kendra was finally able to walk around her hospital floor unassisted!  She wasn't in any more pain than normal (7 on a scale of 1-10) so that was great news.  She did this to keep blood flow to her legs and maintain normal bodily functions.  Apparently things shut down if a person is in bed for too many days in a row.  Even in the middle of the pain and stress on her body she was spreading love throughout the floor with her smiles and encouraging words to all the staff.   She complimented nurses on the pattern of their scrubs or their youthful looking skin or any number of visible attributes.  I am continually amazed by how she will call out the gold in people she has never even talked to.

I'll post the rest of the updates straight from my facebook feed to catch up on the past few days.  The blog has been neglected because this is such a one-way communication tool.  I love to share about life with twins and how we are doing, but Facebook allowed me to get updates out to the majority of our friends and family in a timely manner.

Once this week is caught up i'll go back to the original purpose of this blog:  adventures with twins.

See you soon!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Saying Bye-bye to Cancer

Greetings friends and family,

What do you do when you find out your wife has stage 4 bone cancer in her spine and a malignant tumor in her ovaries?  What do you tell your seven year old kids?

Never thought I'd have to answer that question, but here I am faced with the reality.  I never paid much attention to all of those situations for friends and family and news stories related to the dreaded "c" word, cancer.  It was always someone else's family or distant friend's problem and journey

Let me start by saying that my wife has cancer, but cancer doesn't have my wife.  It doesn't define her.  It's not her identity.  It's just a temporary reality that needs

I've learned more about tests and procedures and doctors than I ever wanted.  The short version of Kendra's update is that she has two tumors.  One on her uterus the size of an orange and one inside the T12 vertebrae that deteriorated some of the bone close to her spinal cord.

Here are all the good things about Kendra's current situation:

- Kendra's mom is flying in to be with us on Sunday!  There are times in life when Kendra needs her mommy and and this is one of them.
- They found the tumor in her pelvis.  Wait... is this is in the wrong section?  Nope.  This is good news for two reasons.  First, it is almost certainly the place where the trouble started so when this is removed, then the source is gone and we can focus on the vertebrae tumor.  Second, the doctors can get a biopsy from this instead of the invasive biopsy of the one on her spine.
- Kendra is bringing life to her floor in the hospital.  She is encouraging the nurses and sharing God's love with everyone.  It's not what she does.  It's who she is.  it's entertaining to see her calling out the gold in people even in the midst of her intense pain.
- The neurosurgeon doctor is from Barrow Neurological Institute, which is one of the best in the country. We trust these experts
- There is no neurological damage.  She is not experiencing any symptoms of damage to her spinal cord.  The pain and effects are localized and not "traveling".  This means we caught the tumor in time.  With a few weeks
- removal of the tumor in her pelvis will hopefully resolve some other "issues" she's been having for the past couple of months and years because the pressure the tumor has been putting on other organs in her body.  That'll be gone!

Here's what we told our kids...  are you ready for this...  we told them the truth.  We have never lied to them about the Easter bunny, Santa, the tooth fairy or even the lie that if you hold your nose up like a pig that it gets stuck.  We chose to tell them the truth about every question they ask and every detail they need to know ever since the day they were born.  Why?  Simple answer.  They believe us and what we say.  I sat them down in the living room and calmly explained in kid terminology what is happening inside Kendra's body and what the doctors are going to do about it.  I threw in some beliefs about what God can and will do as a way to set the expectations for Him to provide the miracle she needs.

I'm giving the truth in love, which does NOT include fear or torment.  There was not a single quiver of my voice or doubt in my mind that this will turn out any other way than complete restoration of Kendra's health.  I want them to see a massive scale of what surrender looks like when I reach the end of my own abilities and strength.  I don't have to hide behind fake smiles and half-hearted "hopes" because I'm not limited to my own power.  I'm only limited by how much of God's power I allow to flow through me.  Kids aren't stupid.  They are very observant and discerning.

One of the most peculiar moments over the past few days is how this phrase rings true.  "Life goes on".  I rode bikes with the twins down to the park in our greenbelt.  They saw the big grassy hill and asked, "can we roll down the hill?"  It was newly mowed and covered in bits of grass.  Inside I was thinking, "i don't want them to get all covered in grass." but I said, "OK!  go for it."  They rolled down several times with lots of hysterical laughs.

It was worth it.  I had to dust them off, then strip down their clothes in the laundry room and vacuum up all the bits that followed them to their room. In the end, is it really a big deal?  Nope.  life goes on even in the midst of mind-boggling sickness, disease, and pain.  This is exactly what I want the twins to experience:  Life in the midst of circumstances.  They are silly and funny and wonderful.  That shouldn't be taken away from them no matter what else is going on in their own life or the lives of those around them.

Life goes on...  I took Easton to the dentist on the day Kendra went to the hospital.  We thought he might have some problems with his teeth, but it turned out to be nothing at all.  This was the best news I heard all day.

Our Pastor came by to visit a couple of times.  We've been through a lot together in the past few years and this is just one more of those bonding experiences.  You learn so much about your combat buddies when you're in a foxhole together.  He and I are battle-worn veterans in some ways.

I spent a few hours over the past day lying next to Kendra in bed.  Just being close to her and having those moments provides a calm in the eye of the storm.

Kendra's visitors have been steady and helpful.  So many caring people who stopped by and gave her encouragement, prayer, flowers, and friendship.

This is a moment I'll never forget.  I'm standing next to Kendra as she stares out the window blankly.  This is the most helpless I have ever felt and at the same time the most hopeful.  I was helpless because there is not a single thing I can do to affect the outcome. I was hopeful because I saw a vision of the future where life is back to normal and this whole situation is just a story we tell people.  There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.  I'm not sure how long night lasts or when morning will come, but when it does I will be the biggest celebrating fool on the planet.

The twins have visited Kendra in the hospital a few times.  Just enough for them to have some mommy-time, but not so much that they bother the nurses or other visitors.  They both prayed for Kendra and put their little hands gently on her stomach while speaking life into her body with great faith.  I'm a proud dad.  Situations like the one we are navigating can either destroy a family or bring it together.  I've never heard of one with no effect at all.  it's pretty clear which direction the 4 Webbs are going:  forward, together, united in health.

See you soon!

Friday, March 6, 2015

In Sickness and Health

Nobody thinks about the sickness part of the vows on the wedding day.  I know I didn't.  Youth and invincibility leads to a serious oversight of this key phrase, but now that I am faced with living this out in marriage, my love for Kendra is functioning exactly as I vowed on that day 13 years ago.

In an odd twist of fate, the week of my 40th birthday included a trip to the emergency room for Kendra.  She's had back pain for the past 6 weeks from an incident where she coughed and popped something out of alignment in her back.  She's been slowly recovering from that and had the best pain-free day yesterday since it happened.

This morning she was in the kitchen and sneezed.  She said she heard and felt something pop and then she started screaming in pain and went down to the floor on her stomach.  Her back seized up and she lay there for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do.  Easton and Layla and I stood by helpless as we assessed the situation.

Kendra said she wanted to get to our bed so I helped her stand up and we started walking towards the bedroom slowly in a waltz dancing kind of posture.  She felt light-headed, then collapsed straight down as she passed out.  She came to about 20 seconds later and I helped her back to her feet.  We made it to the bed where she laid on her back to get some relief from the pain.

We made an appointment with her doctor and I drove her there.  On the way she passed out a couple of times from the pain and felt nauseous.  I went inside the doctor's office to explain Kendra's condition and the doctor told me to drive her directly to the emergency room across the street.  I dropped her off, checked her in, and then picked up the kids from school.  We arrived back at the emergency room where the twins were able to give her some loving and know she was OK.

I planned on it being an outpatient kind of thing where they give her a shot and some drugs and then send us home for Kendra to recover.  That didn't happen.  They ran a CT scan and noticed something on the T12 vertebrae.  Then they ordered an MRI which took a few hours to coordinate.  By that time the kids were in bed and I was at home.  Our friend, Tam, came over to watch over the sleeping kids while I went to be with Kendra.

The nurse practitioner showed us the MRI and explained every 3D aspect of what it showed.  Kendra's discs are good and all but one of her vertebrae are in good condition.  However, there is a lesion on the T12 vertebrae.  I'm not sure what that means, but it looks like a round, dark spot on the MRI.  It's not a fracture or anything broken, but something is definitely there.  The nurse mentioned it could be a cyst or tumor, but since she's not the neurosurgeon she wasn't able to give even a guess.

So now we wait.  Not knowing is the most difficult part.  Friday morning the neurosurgeon will review the MRI and recommend next steps.  The nurse seemed to think the next step will be to get a biopsy, then send Kendra home, then wait 5-7 days for a report from the lab.  The good news is that Kendra will probably come home Friday afternoon.  That would make me very happy.

The outpouring of prayers and offers to help by our friends and family is overwhelming.  We are truly blessed to have such great people in our lives to respond the way they are.  I don't really know how to process this aspect of the day's events.  Not sure what I expected, but to have so many wonderful people honestly be there for us in our time of need is something so spectacular I can't even put it into words.  There is no fear.  We are not worried.

In our freedom class last night and last Sunday we had the opportunity to pray for physical healings and witnessed a number of amazing breakthrough miracles.  Now, 24 hours later, we are being confronted with the need for a miracle in Kendra's back.  Challenge accepted!  Do we really believe what we've been teaching for the past two years?  We absolutely do.  People only find out what they truly believe when a little pressure is applied.

I will not give a single sentence worth of credit to the devil with space on my blog or in my mind.  This is not about what he's doing.  This is about what God already did.  We can talk all day about theology and doctrine, but when the rubber meets the road that is not what heals.  There is no amount of knowledge or scripture that can bring life to Kendra's situation.  It is God's presence on Earth to do for us what we can't do for ourselves that has the power to heal.  I refuse to fight.  I just surrender.  I can't succeed or fail at something only God can do so I rest in Him.  I don't control outcomes. That's His job.

Kendra is sleeping peacefully at the hospital and I am going to sleep peacefully in my own bed at home because I surrender completely.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Daddy is 40

Greetings friends and family,

40 years old is a new reality for me and I'm working through that bit by bit.  Old is usually described as "15 years older than you are". Since I'm 40, add 15 and that makes 55.  reaching a possible retirement age definitely qualifies for old.  However, I'm starting to consider more seriously what that entails now that I've crested the big 4-0.  I knew I was going to get old, but I just didn't think it would happen so soon.

I was greeted this morning by two wonderful kids who are 100 times more excited for my birthday than I am.  I got hugs and the birthday song before I even brushed my teeth.  I even received some gifts. Easton gave me his collection of four owl coloring pages.  Even his beloved Great Horned Owl drawing.  He also gave me his Lego transformer car.  Layla gave me her red rabbit coloring page and her "Three Bears" book.  I smiled and thanked them with all the excitement as if they bought my dream car, a Toyota 4Runner.  I love and appreciate how they gave me what they had!

The rest of my birthday was spent with Kendra in peace and quiet.  We took a nap, talked, and just hung out being almost completely unproductive.  it was glorious...

Sunday was a 13 hour day filled with two services of church where i spoke a few minutes on stage during both of them.  Then we had the pastor's meet and greet where we welcomed new attendees with a lunch and lots of conversations.  Then I prepared to teach our class and organize the materials needed to do it.  One of the class attendees was a young lady who's tire went flat on her car.  Kendra drove her to the auto store and then gave her a ride to class.  Since it was too late after class to get her car she stayed with us in our spare bedroom.  This morning Kendra gave her a ride back to the shop.  Kendra asked if we could buy her new tire.  I was already thinking the same thing so that's what we agreed to do!  There are no limits to our generosity other than whatever God chooses to put in our hands.  It's all His and we treat it that way!

Stepping back one day to Saturday, I convinced the twins to go with me to run errands by allowing them to wear their Heely shoes and whatever they want to wear.  Layla chose a flowy princess dress and Easton chose his Endeavor space shuttle shirt.  They rolled around Lowes like they owned the place.

My birthday weekend was somewhat typical because I wanted it that way.  Kendra asked me several times what I want and I honestly didn't know even what to ask.  I think back to other birthday parties where a bunch of acquaintances and friends show up.  Eat something, hang around socializing, sing the birthday song and that's about it.  Most times I'm happy to be there for birthday parties, but I just don't value the big social parties and get togethers much anymore.

And now onto my soap box.   Here is a list of the 25 Biggest Regrets In Life:

Why would I read this negative list?  It keeps my eyes focused on what matters most, that's why!  If you read that list you'll notice THREE out of the 25 are a variation of the same thing:  Time with kids.

13. Taught my kids to do stuff more.  Kids love their parents, but they love doing stuff with their parents even more.  And it doesn't have to be a vacation at the Four Seasons.  It could be raking leaves, learning how to throw a football, or cleaning up a play room together.  We learned all the little habits that we take for granted in our own behavior from mimicking our parents.  If we’re not making the time to do stuff with our kids, we’re robbing them of the chance to mimic us.

20. Spending more time with the kids.  I had an old mentor who used to tell me, “when it comes to parenting, it’s not quality of time that’s important, it’s quantity of time.”

25. Being a better father or mother. ...there’s often been many years that have passed in which we could have and probably should have been spending more time with them.  No situation is ever lost though.  There is always time to improve our relationships with our kids.  But, it can’t wait another day, especially if it’s a relationship that’s been neglected for years.

I will not get to the end of my life with any of these three regrets.  I don't spend time with my twins for the sole purpose of avoiding regrets or proving to them how much I was there.  However, my genuine enjoyment of being their Dad will result in the lack of regrets.  There's a difference.  Spending time with a kid (or a friend or anyone) out of guilt or just so you can say, "see, I spent time with you!" is a horrible, invalid reason for doing it.  The heart matters and Easton and Layla pick up on that even at seven years old.

I took the twins hiking and bouldering, which is kid-friendly rock climbing.  We started out on the trail with plenty of water and snacks in their Camelbak.

My fitbit said we climbed 37 flights of stairs, but i'm not sure that's entirely accurate.  Easton led part of the way and claimed to be king of the mountain!  He's looking stronger by the day.

We headed straight up the side of the mountain to find a little nook or cave we discovered last time.  We were off course, but none of us cared.  we just went for a new adventure and kept on smiling.

We crested one part of a hill and the twins screamed with delight as we found a cool little cave.  Here's a short video of our great find.

The rocks were a little more dangerous than I prefer, but they follow instructions well and know their limitations.  I was never worried, but I bet Kendra would have been if she was with us.

I couldn't ask for a more perfect day for a hike though.  somewhat cool, overcast, slight breeze, and an adventurous time with these two.

My birthday weekend was unremarkable, but at the same time very satisfying.  Now that the celebration is done, it's time to get back to the business of living!  I've got another 40 years worth of discovering more and more of who I am.  Always remain teachable...

See you soon!