Monday, September 28, 2015

getting stronger

Greetings friends and family,

We are back in the waiting game after Kendra had three MRI scans this past week.  We hoped her schedule would lighten up from doctor appointments, but that's not going to happen any time soon.  We are waiting to hear if the spots on her hip bones are cancerous or not.  We are waiting to hear if her vertebrae is healing enough to begin rehab.  She reached her limit on wearing the brace every waking minute of every day for the past six months.  We are hopeful and believing for more and more miracles!  Kendra is getting stronger every day.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...  life goes on and the twins continue to grow.  Layla had a friend over for a play date.  I offered to take the two of them ice skating and that went over well.  It was only $6 for two hours of being cold instead of baking in the heat.  Easy choice!  Layla left her jacket at home, which means I got a couple of pictures of her in her performance outfit.  She's getting more graceful and stronger all the time.

I love that she still looks over as I cheer her on and pay attention to what she's doing.  She can't hear my cheers, but she sees me watching her every move with a big smile on my face and two thumbs up.

Her friend was on the ice for only her second time ever.  It was slow going, but Layla is kind and caring when it comes to rookies on the ice.

I had them stand next to me for pic and i learned the "rabbit ears" thing is still as funny as it was when i was a kid.

The second best part of our weekend was attending the Phoenix Symphony for an hour long concert featuring theme songs from super hero movies.  The free tickets from my work made it worth while to go.  We all dressed up as Captain America and headed downtown.  We drove there in our costumes ready for the big event, but didn't realize only a few people dressed up and most of them were under the age of 10.

It didn't matter to Kendra and I.  Easton and Layla had a slight hesitation as we walked on the downtown streets towards the concert hall, but after a little pep talk and having the experience people smiling and cheering for us, they gained a little confidence and strut in their walk.

Inside the concert hall a few people took pictures with us.  Some little kids thought I was the real Captain America so I was happy to pose for a shot.  We stuck out like sore thumbs and it was awesome.  Kendra looked great in her sparkly dress and gloves.  I was proud of the 4 Webbs for adding some flare to event.

Once inside the auditorium, all of us enjoyed the hour-long concert.  At the end Easton said, "I'm glad you brought us here and I like being in costumes."  That made the whole trip worth it.  Easton's confidence is growing and he's getting stronger every day!

The best part of our weekend was leading our class at church.  We have 38 participants who experienced God in ways they never have before and had their definition shifted for what it means to be transformed and changed.  I consider the night to be a success because of the responses we heard and the relationships between people we saw growing.  This is the fire that burns deep down in our souls.  Seeing people get revelation that results in life-change is the most amazing thing to observe.  Our leadership team is growing and getting stronger every week.  We are developing leaders. That is our calling.

Sunday was an intensely busy day, but we reveled in the moments.  Kendra's schedule is completely unknown, but we expect her to have a CT scan this week and to start her 40 days of radiation next week.  The mountain we are about to climb is steep and painful, but at least we know how long we have to climb.  Thank goodness we are both growing in our relationship and getting stronger every day.

See you soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kendra's complete cancer journey and healing

I've been looking for a way to put Kendra's whole story (with pictures in it) from my facebook account into a single document.  I think this will work...  Here it is, the whole story up to date.  If even one person is encouraged or receives healing or hope then it's all worth the journey.  I'll continue to update this document on the back end, but this link should remain active and up to date as the story continues.

Kendra's complete cancer journey and healing

Her story starts with a fractured T12 vertebrae from a tumor growing inside of it, then quickly falls into the valley of the shadow of death with a diagnosis of stage 4b ovarian clear cell cancer, tumors in her ovaries, liver, and spinal column.  Then she had a hysterectomy   After that things really got difficult as she worked through radiation and chemotherapy.

But...  he story is much more about living a life of resting in peace with power over her circumstances.  Faith and belief in God is her foundation and the beauty in the story is Kendra herself.  It's not about what she is free from.  It's about who she is free to be.  and the journey continues.

Be blessed!

Passions and Interests

Greetings friends and family,

The past six months have been one continuous cycle of re-evaluating what's important in life.  I wish I had a better way to describe in words what's going on in my heart and my head, but words are so inadequate considering the depth and breadth of what it's like to be me lately.  So much pain and so much joy.  So much learned and so much unknown.  So much experienced and so much missed.  In all of these extraordinary highs and lows I don't even know what to share.  Every day seems to drag on forever as Kendra's recovery is better, but barely can be noticed from one day to the next.  We get caught in the middle of the doctors who are understaffed and the insurance companies who have a singular goal of denying as many requests as possible.  I'm not angry or bitter a God or Kendra or family or friends or anyone, but the insurance company gets on my nerves pretty easily.

Anyway, life goes on in the middle of struggles and victories both.  The Phoenix area is in transition from summer to fall, which means the daytime highs are only 100 degrees.  Time to break out the onesies and thick pajamas!  Kendra bought Easton his new winter pjs...  Chewbacca from star wars, complete with the fuzzy hood.  I have no idea why he's posing like this, but we were having fun with taking pics.

Layla didn't get her winter pajama set yet, but she did get stung by a bee.  While we swam in our pool Layla jumped in with me.  As she jumped, a bee must have got stuck behind her knee.  When we landed in the water she got this progressively more expressive crying and whimpering.  I thought she scratched her leg on the side of the pool, but when she showed me where it hurt, i saw the stinger poking out of her leg and here's the cause of the pain

We gave her some antihistamine and she was fine after a few hours.  The two of us are having many interactions per week of quality time.  Especially lately with Kendra not feeling like getting up with the kids or taking them places or putting them to bed.  It's been a long, long marathon of taking care of the twins as much as possible so Kendra can rest.  The time is well worth the sacrifice and missing other opportunities because we are building connection in our relationship very well.  She drew this on her chalkboard for me and gave it to me as a gift.  I couldn't be more proud of her for finding creating ways to express her love.

Our schedule for the next 8 weeks includes two nights per week of the class we teach.  We have 22 leaders and 62 people attending the two classes.  We held a training event at our house where the leaders received a week-long training in one night.  talk about intense.

Here's the a selfie i took of the leaders.  This is a great group of people and we are enjoying every minute of doing life together and helping people become free to be who God made them to be.  This is our passion.  Kendra and I eat, sleep, and breath this because it is the very thing that turned our lives right-side-up and transformed our marriage from being almost over to being over the top awesome.

This is Crys, our friend and co-leader.  Her and her husband Evan are as fanatical about helping people get free as we are.  Her Godfidence shirt is just another way she shows support of Kendra and us and our ministry.  We are living the dream in so many ways.

Easton is karate chopping and kicking everything and everyone now, including Layla.  He knows just enough to be dangerous, but not enough to restrain his power or control his limbs.  He's like a bull in a china closet.  He is set on becoming a black belt though.  I'm happy to support him as he learns great discipline, how to control his body, and how to be assertive in self-defense.  He is excited to have his own "thing" since Layla has figure skating.

I took the twins out for dinner last week because we've been eating out often lately.  time is precious and Kendra is too tired to cook.  breakfast, lunch, and dinner are killing our budget, but i know it's just a season and we'll get back to the normal life of cooking and eating at home soon.  The twins are growing out of clothes at a rapid rate lately.  I'm so happy to see the growing taller and keeping their bodies fit with our active lifestyle.  I walked them to the school gate a few days ago and couldn't believe how many overweight kids there were.  I'm not judging them or their parents, but it made me realize how much Easton and Layla are fit and healthy compared to their classmates.  Sometimes a little exposure provides perspective.

Kendra's MRI is today (Tuesday).  She is so used to being poked with needles and stuffed in machines that it's almost become second nature for her like a routine.   We'll know results by the end of the week and find out when radiation starts.  Can somebody please make 2015 go by faster?  I've been wanting this year to be over since March 5th...

See you soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Full House, Full Hearts

Greetings friends and family,

The Webb hotel was full, but now we have vacancy again.  My friend David let for Utah after living with us a couple of weeks.  Neill and Jenny left after living with us for 10 days.  We loved every minute of having these guests in our house and we miss them all already.  Some of our usual roles were distributed across the guests too such as lifeguard, taking the trash to the curb, and painting fingernails.  I was prepared to happily paint Layla's nails, but Jenny stepped in and asked to take care of my princess warrior. 

Easton had a homework assignment to interview an adult and then make a presentation about their responses.  Neill stepped up to take on that assignment and explained how he was in South Africa when Nelson Mandela became president and eliminated Apartheid.  Now that's a great experience to convey to my boy. 

Cleaning out the fish tank remained a task for Easton and Layla individually...  There is no need to remove all responsibility from the twins even with so many helping hands around.  Speaking of helping hands, we went to Mallory's house for Neill and Jenny to watch rugby with PJ.  The twins played with Parker and wound up in the kitchen as helpers of the cookies being baked.   I learned from this experience that it is very easy to get kids to help if you promise them cookie dough batter. 

Neill and Jenny were all over town helping, leading, speaking, and just being themselves.  As you can see, Kendra fits right in when them as we make ourselves available.  We saw miraculous healing and breakthroughs for people who struggled with things for years or decades.  Watching people experience life and freedom is the most rewarding experience ever.

We didn't take any long trips or have great outdoor adventures because Kendra is still tethered to the doctor's office and it's still too hot around here to do anything worth while except swim.  We had a babysitter put the twins to bed one night while we all went out for dinner.  It's nice to have adult conversation without telling someone to sit up, eat your food, stopping poking your brother in the eye, or a thousand other things that go along with dining with kids.  As much as I love being with Easton and Layla there is a sense of relief when we can have a babysitter take care of things at home so we can enjoy each other and our time together.

Easton found one of my decade-old watches and asked if he could have it.  Why not? I replaced the battery and took out a few links to fit him well.  And just like that, he looks more like me every day.  As much as I want him to be his own individual, the older he gets the more he looks like me, acts like me, and talks like me.  We talked the other day about how one day he will find a lovely young lady to marry and have kids of his own.  He already understands that Layla's name will change some day when she gets married to her husband but his name will stay the same.  I paint with him a picture of what right looks like by dreaming with him along the path of God's design for his life.  When will he get married?  dont' know.  where?  don't know.  to whom?  don't know.  there are many choices he has to make, but the one thing I know i can point him towards is God's design of him finding a wife to love in marriage and having children of his own.

Kendra and I are on our own journey of freedom.  We have not "arrived" but we have left the harbor.  We always keep that frame of reference as we lead our team of 22 others who have found freedom in some area of their lives and seek to connect others to God as their source of life and freedom.  Kendra will not be able to participate at the same level of engagement as in the past, but we have poured into our leaders for a couple of years now so they are stepping into leadership.  The more we give them space to function as leaders, the more they rise to the challenge and become who they were meant to be.  I am thankful for the chance to be a lead servant.  The next eight weeks of class and two weeks of conference preparation will certainly be the busiest season of our lives, but we are rested and ready to take it on because this burden is easy and light when we just get to be who we were created to be.

See you soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Best news ever

Greetings friends and family,

Kendra's short afternoon stay in the emergency room was a result of a urinsry tract infection and resulting fever.  A few antibiotics and a lot of rest is resulting in Kendra feeling better than at any time in the past six months.  

Kendra's support is going strong in spite of our lack of live-in help from our family and her friends who we grew used to having around during the first 4 months of this journey.  Stephanie is one the select few who have been s source of steady care and concern.  I am incredibly grateful for her and the other ladies in Kendra's life.  

My life is never dull and I can't even remember the last time I was bored.  So much is going on that I can only plan for one day ahead at most.  What doctor appointments do we have?  What homework is due? What friends are coming over?  What birthdays party are we attending?  In the midst of everything else I still find time for Layla's figure skating and Eastons Taekwondo.  He is training more like a blackbelt every day and seems to be enjoying every class.  I'm going to start learning his forms at home starting this weekend.  It's no secret I'm as excited for that as he is. 

Neill and Jenny are staying with us for 10 days. Every year when they are here I consider it to be an honor and a privilege to have them with us.  They share in meal preparation and clean up and every other aspect of being the best guests ever.  We love spending time with them just talking and sharing life together.   What a blessing.  Kendra invited some friends over to experience the two of them.  32 people fit in our great room to hear what they had to say and receive healing.   A number of people were healed of various ailments.  Digestion problems, breathing problems, back pain, and many other difficulties were prayed over and healed on the spot. It was amazing. 

The biggest news is about Kendra though. We met her oncologist to get the official PET scan results and prognosis and plan.  The doctor said her vertebrae is healing well. The tumor that was growing in it is completely dead!   The two tumors in her liver are completely gone.  There are no new tumors anywhere in her body. Two new tiny lesions on her hip showed up in the PET scan but they are so small and insignificant that the doctor is not even convinced they are cancerous.  Chemo is done and there are no plans to do it again.  This is the best possible report we could have asked for.  

Next week is the MRI to assess the hip spots.  October 1st will be the start of 40 days of pelvic radiation to make sure all cancer cells are gone including whatever they find on her hip.  This is her doctor and the assistant.  Their words were highly encouraging. 

Today I finally broke down and exhaled for the first time in six months.  Kendra's healing is real.  what I saw by faith six months ago in the hospital when the diagnosis was given is really happening.  

This journey is far from over but now we see in the natural what I've been believing for in the spirit.  It's exciting and at the same time humbling to be a part of such an amazing story.  This is not the way I would have scripted our life story had I been asked but we are more deeply connected to God and each other than we ever could have been without Kendra's journey. 

The twins have no concept of how low the lows have been or how high the highs have been in the past few months.  What they know is that Kendra was very sick but God is in the miracle working business and now she is walking it out one day at a time. 

See you soon

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Answers, Finally

Greetings friends and family,

Six months ago today Kendra was admitted to the hospital.  It feels like six years ago.  She had one round of tests and scans that led to a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, liver cancer, bone cancer, and a broken vertebrae.  After her hysterectomy and biopsies we went home from the hospital with very few answers.  I've spent six months in this data vacuum without the slightest visibility into the severity, aggressiveness, or direction of the cancer in her body.   This, along with the pain of watching my wife suffer, has been the greatest challenge of my life.  Not knowing.

For six months we've taken no family vacations or staycations or day trips or anything resembling a 4 Webbs adventure.  It's been difficult seeing posts and pictures of everyone traveling and playing and experiencing summer fun while we revolve our schedules and lives around doctor visits.  Kendra has been shackled to the perimeter of town so that she can get poked by a nurse six days a week at one of three doctor's offices.  and now we finally have some answers.

Her PET scan results show the tumors in her liver and her vertebrae are gone! For everything else there are a bunch of "buts" in the answers.  The tumor in her vertebrae is gone, but we don't know how structurally strong her bone is.  She has no pain, but the long term plan is completely unknown.  She has no new tumors in any organs, but there are two tiny spots of concern in her left hip.  They may or may not be cancerous, but Kendra will have an MRI next week to find out exactly what it is.

Starting in two weeks she'll undergo 40 days of daily abdominal radiation to kill off any free floating cancer cells as well as the spots in her hip bone, if that turns out to be something of concern.  We don't know what that will do to her body other than make her progressively fatigued as the days go by.  That takes us through mid-October.

The hope we are hanging onto is that when she has that last radiation appointment she will be completely done with treatments.  She'll take the next six weeks to recover, which means Thanksgiving will be a most memorable holiday when things line up.

I can speak for Kendra by saying she is terribly tired of hospitals and needles and nurses.   She knows the systems and processes better than some of the staff.  I want her to spend less and less time here as the days and months drift by

Kendra's blood transfusion on Friday was necessary because her hemoglobin count was too low.  After spending 5 hours in the hospital watching blood drip, she came home worn out, but feeling slightly refreshed from the aspects of healthy blood.  We had an open ended plan to maybe go the monthly church worship time.  Kendra at first said "no", but then changed her mind to "yes" because going there is so refreshing and life-giving.  So we took a van full of friends to downtown Phoenix.  Layla went with us because she loves to sing.  This view of Kendra and Layla praying and singing together is emotionally moving for me.  I am so very grateful for Kendra being an excellent example for Layla of pursuing Godliness.

Saturday was a blur because Kendra had a bladder infection so it was Daddy time all day long.  I took Easton to Taekwondo and Layla to ice skating for some public skate time.  Layla and I went to the local grocery store for some one on one conversation.  She is such a happy child and it does my heart good to be with her.  I tell her often how much I like her and love her and enjoy spending time together.

This past week was by far the most emotionally and mentally taxing I've ever experienced.  So many unanswered questions, but at least we have some guidance as to the direction.  Next week will include meeting the oncologist for a prognosis, an MRI for Kendra's hip, and possibly an IV bag of Vitamin C from the naturopathic doctor.  That'll be the easiest week Kendra's had in months!

See you soon.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Waiting and fighting

Greetings friends and family,

These past few days have tried my patience in ways I never thought possible.  Kendra's journey through cancer treatment has been one gigantic unknown waiting period after another. 

The good: the nurse confirmed that Kendra is done with chemotherapy unless the PET scan results lead to another round. Also, Her PET scan completed according to plan.  

The bad:  The doctor was supposed to get the results and call us today but that didn't happen because the results didn't get released for her to review them yet.  I took the day off work to be with Kendra when the big call came in, but it never did. 

The ugly:  Kendra's hemoglobin is so low from chemo that she will have to get a blood transfusion. She is pale, with fever like symptoms and fatigue like she's never been before.   

Even with all of this going on we still had a great time together today and laughed several times today. The smiles are real and we are both in good spirits. 

Kendra was craving pulled pork so that's what we ate because as a chemo patient it is recommended that whatever sounds tasty and you won't throw up, eat that.  

Afterwards we went outside quickly to our car where we drove to her doctor appointment in the haboob.  See the big cloud of brown behind Kendra?  We drove through it.  We joked about a possible book title for our journey...  We would call it, "Into the haboob". 

We have both become very good at surrendering. There isn't a single thing we can do to with our human strength or will power to overcome the physical struggles her body is going through. 

However, Easton is getting his first taste of fighting and he loved it.   He's been going to Taekwondo  for a couple of months and recently made the leap from $32 Groupon to an annual membership cost.  Included in his joining of the club he gets all the gear including combat gloves for sparring and practice.   

Today he earned his first belt, the orange belt.  He performed his form in front of the leaders, did some practice moves and broke some boards.  

Layla watched the whole thing with me with cheering and encouragement for Easton.  He tries to convince her to join him in his quest for a black belt in martial arts but she declined saying "that's YOUR thing.  Mine is figure skating."

We pared down the list of extracurricular activities for now. No piano lessons, no soccer, no competition swimming...  Just martial arts for Easton and figure skating for Layla.  They are both excelling at their sport and doing well in school. Can't ask for more than that especially during this season.  

See you soon!