Monday, November 7, 2011

Today is Officially My Day!

...well at least in the City of Johnson, Arkansas! Seriously, it is! Let me explain and overload you with pictures to prove it!

Pat and I have a Springdale address but vote in Johnson (don't ask me for an explanation!). Johnson is a small town separating Fayetteville from Springdale.A member of the Johnson Area Fire Department (JAFD), Danny Farrar, attends CrossChurch with us. He has been so amazing through all this by giving us his personal cell phone, adding me to the JAFD prayer list, and we all remember the fire truck making a personal visit for the kids! Well, he out did himself this time! The JAFD and Mayor of Johnson held a little ceremony for me last night. I received the 2011 Honary Fire Chief for Bravery award! This is the first time JAFD has ever done something like this. Here's the Fire Chief presenting me the award:

Now you might all want to sit down for this one! The mayor then presented me with an award that I had no idea about! I quote "Proclamation of the Mayor of Johnson, Arkansas Be It Known To All that Tuesday, November the Eighth, Two Thousand Eleven Shall Be Known as Sarah Fries Day in the City of Johnson, Arkansas." I kid you not, this is for real!

Oh and how can I forget to mention I was awarded with an actual fire jacket and helmet!

Here's a picture of me with the Fire Chief and the Mayor with my sweet awards!

Now go ahead and laugh but here I am giving my acceptance speech! I totally wasn't expecting to do that, but I made my way through it (ugly cry face and all!!).

A prissy firefighter and a cowboy firefighter having a blast in the fire truck!

Now for all the pictures in front of the fire truck! Here's the mayor and his wife!

My family support! My dad hated missing but he was out of town for business. Additionally, Pat's family wasn't able to make it due to his Grandma going to see Jesus yesterday. Keep them in your prayers if you think about it.

The AMAZING Johnson Area Fire Department!!! Seriously some of the sweetest guys I've ever met! We are truly blessed to have this team protecting us!

Danny Farrar is the man on the left with the white shirt. I forgot to mention his wife made our family one of the best meals we had (chicken and dumblings)! These people are truly who make this trial in my life so much easier to cope with. And I mean how special can they make a girl feel?

That was truly the experience of a lifetime!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Update and Video

(iPhone pic so quality isn't great but I know some of you just want to see me to know I'm doing as good as I say I am!)

So we just got back from Houston for our latest report. The MRI showed that the tumor is stable, meaning it isn't growing or reducing. While I would have preferred some reduction, the Neuro-Oncologist persisted that stable is a good thing and a good place to be right now. He explained that the cancer cells are slow growing so we should expect them to take some time to reverse the growth. They thought I was really doing good symptom-wise, so they went ahead and increased my chemo dosage. I was only getting about 75% of the recommended dosage, so hopefully this will help reduce the tumor at a more timely pace (in my impatient eyes!). Additionally, the doctor told us that I could be on chemo for a year or even two. We haven't really heard that yet, so it was a bit of a surprise but honestly if it is working lets keep doing it! With this increase I could use some more of your awesome prayers! Please pray that the increase dosage doesn't mean an increase in symptoms! And also pray for the chemo to be doing it's job (preferably in a timely manner!). I'm actually starting the 5th round of chemo tonight.

So an upside to this new life is that I have a new platform! I get many opportunities to share how I can still have joy in a time that should bring so much pain. Also, how faithful and present Jesus is in ALL times of our lives. I have shared with individuals, audiences, and TV cameras! I can relate to pain and suffering in others lives like never before. Here's a link to a video that I did resently. It's a video I did for an organization called Laugh for Healing. They help people and families going through major events in their lives.

I also was nominated by my amazing SIL for a makeover that local news station partnered with a company. Here's the video for that:

Thanks for your support and hopefully I can get Pat to write something beautiful soon! Also I will load some pictures and get back to a semi-normal blog!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Support & Love

I stumbled upon a Good Morning America video this morning that left me a wreck (in a good way)! I sent it to a few people, but thought it could touch more people too!

I was struggling with how to blog it and if I should wait for Pat to blog it since he's so good with expressing himself with words! Then low and behold, my dear sister-in-law, Angela, put it into words for me! Click here and read what she wrote (which also left me a wreck!). I'm warning you grab kleenexes even if you don't think you are a crier. Click on her video link and be sure to watch all three videos. They should just play right through.

This is a good time to thank all of you for following along with our journey and especially sending those prayers up for US. No words could express what that truly means to me.

As Sheryl Crow says in the video "when you're diagnosed with cancer everybody around you is diagnosed as well." Additionally another lady in the video tearfully expresses that "they always loved on me and never made me feel like a burden." Those two quotes really spoke to me, but the entire video is spot on!

Thanks for loving me through it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Update 8/2/11

Just wanted to give a quick update on how Sarah is feeling.

We've spent the last week in and out of doctors' offices seeking diagnosis for Sarah's nausea. Long story short, all the gastronomical tests were, essentially, uncircumstantial.

The good news is that Sarah has felt marginally better the past few days, and has been prescribed some medication that seems to be helping.

We take another visit to Houston at the end of August for a standard two-month follow-up. Hopefully, Sarah continues to feel better, and we have a great visit/report.

On a side note, something really cool occurred this afternoon. Sarah absolutely loves her primary care physician, Dr. Furlow. He has prayed with us in his office, and has spoken countless words of encouragement to her and I since her diagnosis.

Though they have never met, Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, has significantly challenged Sarah's faith through his faithful fight against brain cancer.

We were not able to see Dr. Furlow last week, when Sarah first began feeling sick. He was on vacation. When we finally got to see him today, he (again) had many encouraging words for Sarah and I. While on vacation, he was able to spend time with Matt Chandler at Camp Kanakuk family camp, and brought with him countless stories about the energy, faith, strength, and normalcy of the life he is able to lead.

This type of connection between two people who have encouraged Sarah, independently, is unexplainable apart from the providence of God. Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good Grief

A good night's rest has been hard to come by lately at the Fries house.

For about two weeks, Sarah has been very nauseous. So nauseous, in fact, that she has not had more than a daily popsicle or snow cone since her nausea commenced.

Please pray for her. The onset of this recurring sickness is a bit unexplainable since it began prior to starting her second round of chemo treatment. Of course, her symptoms have been exacerbated by her treatment over the last four days. Fortunately, she takes her last second round dosage tonight. We are praying for relief. Please join us.

Times like this are tough, very tough. There's no getting around it. I'd like to say that she, I, and the kids are able to breeze through it, unscathed. We're not. This stuff can keep us at night. Whether she can't kick the physical side effects of her treatment, or my mind is racing trying to figure out what to do, there's quite a bit of tossing and turning in the master bedroom!

Fortunately, we've had a few things to celebrate during this time. Since we first learned of Sarah's preliminary diagnoses in February, we've asked that God use us for His Kingdom purpose. Over the past two weeks, we have been able to share our perspective of Sarah's trial with a young couple, with students, with a friend whose job is at risk, with group of young men, and with a couple of men with a vision to find stories that can be communicated to encourage others in our region.

It's been encouraging to reflect on how this prayer has been answered, and we look forward to more opportunities like these.

I've been asked recently, "If you had four minutes to drive home a message about what you've learned through this trial, what would it be?"

I'm going to give myself literary license to ramble for a moment. I hold old man hours. The only reason I'm up this late, anyway, is because I can't keep my mind from racing (and Sarah told me I needed to update the blog). I'm hoping this helps to settle me down.

When we talk to people about the last few months of our lives, I think it is easy for people to begin putting themselves in our shoes, specifically Sarah's shoes. But, we didn't ask for opportunities to share this story so that people would have pity on her, or us. We hope that God uses our story to change lives, and that it gives hope to people in the midst of any type of trial.

More than once, I've asked myself the question, "What good can come of this? How's this good for Sarah? For the kids? For me?"

There's a great promise 1 Peter 1: 3-9. It's worship-inducing stuff. Read it for yourself. Here's what I hear when I read it:

"Pat, you have a Father in heaven who loves you so much He sent His son to die for you. And, because of Jesus' resurrection, you have hope. By His mercy you are promised a perfect inheritance in heaven. God knew that you would face trials in this imperfect world, and that those trials would lead to grief. Grief is fine; it's even necessary. God knew that, through your grief, your faith in Him would be tested. He knew that you would ask questions like, 'What good can come of this?'. But, grief produces genuinely tested faith. And, genuine faith is more precious than gold, more precious than your health, more precious than your wealth, and even more precious than your family. Whether you live to be 8 or 108, your time on this earth is just a 'little while.' By your faith, you have an eternal promise that is untouchable. It's imperishable. Rejoice! No matter is taken from you (health, job, whatever), you have not lost your most prized possession! Encourage others to take the step of faith to obtain the salvation of their souls, and love for their Savior."

There's no guarantee of health, healing, or even personal well being. There is, though, a promise that our faith is refined through our trails. That imperfections in our faith come to surface, and we have the opportunity to respond. Our perspective is shifted towards eternal hope.

If you are in the midst of a trial, I hope these verses, and this message resinate with you. Please pray with us, that we would have more opportunities to share this message with others.

Now, I can sleep.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Houston Report

We just left Sarah’s consultation at MD Anderson. The big news of the day: Sarah will have chemotherapy for at least six months. This is a good thing! In fact, it is a great thing! Let me try to explain.

As you might remember, surgery removed 90%-95% of Sarah’s tumor. The goal of the 30 days of radiation was to reduce the amount of residual tumor that remained. Sarah’s oncologist, Dr. Conrad, estimated that the amount of residual tumor was reduced by 50% through the radiation therapy. So, for the math majors (Angela), this would mean that approximately 95%-97.5% of the tumor is gone.

The tumor’s response to radiation therapy is a good sign that it will respond just as well to chemotherapy. This is considered a mild form of chemotherapy that Sarah will be able to take at home by mouth with very little side effects. She will take 5 pills a month over a 6 month period. Ultimately, the goal of chemotherapy is to further reduce the amount of residual tumor. She will certainly be on it for 6 months, and will later be determined whether another 6 months treatment is beneficial. During this time, she will go back to MD Anderson for a MRI/check-up every two months.

A few people have already had questions or concerns about Sarah’s upcoming chemotherapy. We want to make certain that you know that this is a good thing. This is the next step towards Sarah’s recovery. Dr. Conrad is still very positive about Sarah’s progression. He suspects that after chemotherapy, Sarah will be on a very easy maintenance plan of Accutane. Sarah thinks that’s pretty funny and looking forward to great skin!

All is well. Thank you for your prayers. God is sovereign through all this!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Doing Great

Everyone has been asking how I'm doing and I realized it's been a while since I blogged! Honest answer is I'm doing great! I feel really good and I'm getting most of my energy back. Most of all I'm loving being home with my family! I return to MD Anderson on June 16th-17th to figure out prognosis and future. I will be sure to update then too. The love and support I feel right now overwhelms me and takes my breath away often! Short and sweet blog (like me, wink wink) but wanted to catch everyone up on how I'm feeling. Praise Jesus!