Finally…We’ve Made It

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Friends, as you know, it has been a long journey to get to this day. Originally rediagnosed in May, we had hoped to have met this milestone months ago, but here we are on October 29th, finally being admitted into the hospital to begin the bone marrow transplant process. A lot of life has happened in those few months, a lot of disappointments and frustrations, so you can imagine our sighs of relief as I packed up the Jeep this morning with a month’s worth of clothes, snacks, books, and anything else one could possibly need for an extended stay at the hospital. Are we exhausted? Beyond imaginably so. But, we keep saying to one another, “One last time. Let’s push through this hospital stay so we never have to do this again.” We know that this particular stay will be unlike any others in the past two years, but there’s something about knowing this will be the last one. We know this is going to be awful. We know this is going to be some of our hardest and worst days yet. But we also know that this is going to be the cure. I am downright giddy inside thinking of life without cancer. Nearly our entire marriage has been spent fighting this disease; we cannot wait to be boring and have our biggest stress stem from who is going to choose what’s for dinner that night. We will fight through these upcoming days chasing that dream.

Though not typical for these blog posts to center around being just an update, we felt compelled to do so after so many have asked what can specifically be prayed over. Having said that, this is (loosely) what our impending days entail of and what we could really use prayer for:

Today we are admitted into the hospital for an unknown length of time. They tell us to expect to be here from 4-6 weeks, but all of that is completely based on how Andrew is doing and how his body is responding to the transplant. So we could be in for 3 weeks or we could be in for 8+ weeks; it’s just a matter of when Andrew’s body is ready. This first week in the hospital is solely a week of the most intense chemotherapy possible. The idea is that this chemo will completely wipe everything out of his body to kind of set it at zero. Yes, this is as terrible as it sounds. He will feel completely awful and we expect this to result in the worst days after this has essentially destroyed his body. One week from today, Thursday, November 5th, will be the actual transplant day. On this day, he will receive the stem cells from his wonderful donor. After that, we wait. It is a most delicate process of medicine. For those who are not familiar with a bone marrow transplant, the most simple and straight-forward way of describing it is that they are replacing one person’s (Andrew’s) immune system with another person’s (the donor). From there, the idea is that since Andrew’s immune system is clearly not doing its job, we are replacing it with someone’s that hopefully will. Now, with that runs significant risks. This new immune system could “wake up” in Andrew’s body & recognize that it is not in its own, typical body and attack Andrew instead. We ask for heavy prayer over this. Andrew will be on many medications, but some in particular that allow the immune system to be slowly introduced to its new body, so to speak. This means Andrew’s body will be without much of an immune system for some time which makes him extremely vulnerable. This very real risk becomes that even the slightest infection, cold, virus, things that to you and I with immune systems would have no problem fighting off, could kill him. We ask for heavy prayer over this. This entire process, from chemo to the transplant, absolutely obliterates Andrew’s body and the side effects are brutal. The worst one that he is already encountered is neuropathy. Neuropathy is the dysfunction of the nerves that causes severe pain, weakness, and numbness. Right now, Andrew is numb from his waist down to his knees and then his knees to his toes are in horrific pain constantly. This has wiped out Andrew’s ability to walk on his own; he has been forced to lean on a walker, wheelchairs, and his tiny wife for assistance and stability to walk. For this to happen to someone who has spent all of their life running up and down a basketball court, you can imagine how difficult this has been to adjust to. Typically, this side effect will go away, but it takes months to years for this to resolve. We ask for heavy prayer over this. 

That was the short synopsis of what is to come. Once released from the hospital, he is still bound to the safety of our home without leaving for months. Everything will be very delicate for quite a while. This is the long haul. This isn’t a quick fix, but it is the fix that we have spent years praying for. I thank you for the unending support that we have received. Truly, from the bottom of our hearts, it has meant the absolute world. Every single day, we have some sort of encouragement, be it a card, a text, a phone call, a tweet, etc. It’s been unbelievable. So we thank you, again, for the strength and motivation that you all have given to us. Many have also asked for our address to send cards and encouragements to Andrew, so you will find that below. We love all of the cards and letters, I assure you we read every single one and smile every single time.

804 N Bolton Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46219

This is what the Lord says: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. I will heal you.'” (2 Kings 20:5)

15 thoughts on “Finally…We’ve Made It

  1. Our love and constant prayers are always with you both.
    We will pray for all those things you asked and more….

    We love you both…..

  2. We are praying for all of you—-I work with Darcey at KCS and have been following your blogs and posts. My sister-in-law went through this very same treatment a year ago and has had fantastic results!!! I will pray that you and Andrew will see the same results and be able to enjoy your “boring” life together once again!
    Hugs to all of you!

    1. I am keeping a copy of your blog in the place that I pray and will keep you continuously in my prayers, especially praying for those things you asked to pray heavily for. I will keep you and your whole family in my prayers. I look forward to the great news of health and 100% healing. May you feel God’s love and presence through your journey. -Sue (childhood friend of Mauri and family)

  3. I’m friends with the Sutters and Curt so have been following. Thanks for a very helpful update. Will be praying and believing that God, who created you and loves you both, has the power to heal the body however He chooses. Many times through wonderful doctors and medical procedures for His honor and glory.

  4. You precious people will be lifted up, keep trusting God to work His perfect will. With much affection I pray for a speedy stem cell implanting.

  5. This was sent to me by our mutual friend and your fellow Butler Bulldog B-Ball Buddy, Liesl Schultz Hying. My husband had a stem cell transplant last spring and I share all your fears and worries. Looking back, what we imagined it to be was worst than it actually was. I so hope that you have a similar experience. The doctors and nurses, friends and family were such an unbelievable support. We were not in it alone and together we got through it. He is now feeling good and has started his immunizations. We will be thinking of you both and praying for a healthful outcome for you. Take care.

  6. I’m so glad the day has finally arrived for you to begin the transplant process. I will be in prayer for the whole experience not to be as bad as anticipated; for Andrew’s body to accept his “new” immune system without any complications; to remain infection free; and for the neuropathy to be short term.
    I also will be in prayer for patience, peace, comfort, and strength that only He can give.

    God Bless!

  7. Hello! You do not know me, but your story was shared by a mutual friend of ours on FB, and I have been reading your blog. My son just underwent a stem-cell transplant two weeks ago today, for relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia that was diagnosed in Dec. of 2012. he is 37, married, and has three young children. I can’t put into words how very much I can identify what you are going through, but I do have the words to say that God WILL get you through this journey. if I can help in anyway, please PM me on FB. Blessings to you both, Bobbie Rauch Boehlke

  8. Praying for you all each day as you walk through this journey.

    I was telling your Dad that we have had several kids go through stem cell and bone marrow transplant at Riley since August – twin 3 year old boys adopted from Kenya – Jon and Debi Huskins grandsons are still there but making a huge come back from trying to rid their bodies of Sickle Cell Anemia. Another family Jason and Holly Cooper – both MD’s and their son Camden, 14, is doing well after bone marrow transplant to rid his body of Leukemia.

    Hope this encourages you both,

    Our Love and Prayers are with you,

    Henry and Marcia Jones

  9. I don’t know either of you, but think you are both incredibly brave. Praying with you and for you that this is what Andrew needs so that the two of you can go n with your lives. I think God must have great plans for you.

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