Monday, December 29, 2014

Believe and Love

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for continuing to uphold Victoria and our family in prayer during 2014. It has been an amazing year for us all, full of health and adventures, Praise God.  In late November we attended the Vision Australia Christmas Party at Corlette, Port Stephens. We all had a fabulous time, including motor bike rides to Nelson Bay and back, courtesy of the American Motorcycle Association. 

Reflecting on the photo above, it is hard to believe how well Victoria looks, so healthy, strong, long hair, loving her life. We are so grateful to God for where she is at physically and emotionally today. I must admit I did say a few prayers as she drove away on the back of the Harley.

Watching Victoria drive off gave Charlotte the courage to have a go too. Charlotte's words were something like, 'If Victoria can be brave, so can I.' So off she went too, and I said another prayer.

Of course, I had to be brave then too!

Alexandra desperately wanted to go for a ride too, but couldn't because of her age. So she had to be content with a 'sit' on the bike.

Alexandra did however get the opportunity to go in the stretch Hummer. For the past couple of years, via Camp Quality, we have had the opportunity to go for a Hummer ride around Newcastle. But Alexandra has missed out both times due to her age. So when she heard there was going to be stretch Hummer rides, she was so excited.

When she got inside the Hummer, she didn't stop smiling!

Marshall and Ken opted out of the motor bike rides, but rather decided to take up the offer of a sail. It was a glorious day for sailing, plenty of wind and sun.

Charlotte was still looking for more adventure, so went out for a blast on a jet ski.

We had a fantastic day and were once again amazed at the generosity of people, all volunteers who gave of their time and shared their 'toys' so the Vision Australia clients could have so much fun. It was another learning experience for our family, as we shared in the fun with other vision impaired children. God continues to build compassion and understanding in all our lives.

Victoria has continued to be amused to see her photo in various places, including the Trade Secret shops. We pray that Starlight Children's Foundation will have received sufficient donations to meet their target of having enough funding to grant  200 wishes. Thank you to everyone who has donated to Starlight Children's Foundation to help make a huge difference in the lives of seriously ill children. 

One of the unexpected outcomes of being involved in this PR arrived in our post last week. It was a Christmas card that a Starlight supporter had sent to us via the Starlight Children's Foundation. It reads,

Ken and Wendy you have a beautiful and brave little girl, and no doubt her siblings are likewise. Go on being loving parents - I know "Our Lord" is watching over you all. God Bless You, Carmel, aged 87

I still cry when I read this card, to think that someone we don't know, took the time to send us this card, and pray for us, and is aged 87! The love in the body of Christ continues to amaze me.

Victoria continues to do her daily leg stretches to compensate for the muscle tighening due to the hemiplegia.  (weakness of muscles on her left side). Over the past few months, with more time and better headspace I have been able to do some research into the acquired hemiplegia Victoria has due to the tumour and a small stroke she suffered during surgery. I have found a very interesting organisation in the UK called HemiHelp. The information on their website and handbook has helped bring clarity to all the physical therapy Victoria has had to do over the past four years to keep her left arm, hand and leg functional. It also helped me to put into context other impacts such as visual field loss, sensory issues and secondary physical issues. 

Regarding Victoria's left arm and hand, we have been told by medical staff that it is a situation of 'use it or lose it'. When you have a part of your body that doesn't work so well, the tendency is not to use it. In Victoria's case, choosing not to use her left arm and hand will have long term detrimental effects. The latest therapy plan is to combine both leg stretches and left hand usage, whilst constraining her right hand.
Please pray that Victoria will have the motivation and emotional strength to continue to use her left hand in every day activities despite it's lack of physical strength. 

As you can see in this photo, Victoria also has her right taped with Physiotherapy tape. The aim of the tape is to encourage her right leg to walk heel-toe. This tape is currently on for 6 days and off for 1 day, repeatedly. Anyone who has used this tape would know that it is painful to remove. We have found an excellent product that helps us to remove the tape pain-free, it is called, Zoff, a product by Smith & Nephew.

All this therapy and continual attention to Victoria's physical needs can be very draining on Victoria and the rest of our family, so we certainly take the opportunity to enjoy the "adventures" that come our way.  Thankfully due to the many generous people in this country, there are many of these 'respite' opportunities. Just before Christmas we went to see the Sydney Kings play courtesy of Camp Quality. To see Victoria here you would have little idea of what she has to do to keep her body functioning physically well.

Reading through both The HemiHelp Handbook, and The Brain Tumour Alliance Australia Handbook, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed. The impacts and challenges presented by both Hemiplegia and Brain Tumours do not make for pleasant reading. However, for the sake of Victoria, I believe we cannot have our 'head in the sand' regarding her daily struggles and the medical implications. We need to be informed so we can help her the best way possible. 

But there is one thing we need to never lose sight of, and that is that God is in the midst, and that is why I read The Bible every day. A book that is full of hope, love and promises. A book full of testimonies of God's goodness and faithfulness. A goodness and faithfulness we have continually seen in the last four years. Four years of God's grace in our lives. A month ago a friend gave me this perfume, not for the perfume's sake, but rather for it's name.

I have the box sitting next to my desk, a constant reminder, to believe.

And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes! At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith! Mark 9:23-24 AMP

Another friend gave me some perfume too. Maybe there is a message I am not getting! Although, this gift came from New Zealand, so I think not. Have a close read of the name and brand of this perfume.

It sits right next to the Believe perfume. My friend sent The Love is heavenly by Victoria's secret, with this scripture reference.

Love never give us.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled. 1 Corinthian 13:4-8 The Message

'Believe' and 'Love', two wonderful things to do in 2015! 

Thank you for believing in and loving our family. Thank you for praying for us and for supporting us in so many different and necessary ways. We look forward to sharing our journey with you in 2015 and pray for God's blessing on you and your family.

Friday, November 28, 2014

PR and Love

Once again our lives have been filled with unusual happenings. But this time they have been of the fun kind! The Starlight Children's Foundation asked Victoria if she would be involved in their Christmas Campaign. When we explained to her that this was an opportunity to help raise money so other seriously ill children could have their 'wish' granted, Victoria immediately said 'Yes, I will do it.' The PR has involved various activities, including recording voice overs for television and radio ads.

Victoria did a great job in the studio, under close supervision of Dad! 

And found the whole process very interesting.

As some of you know Ken and I also did an interview for the Australian Women's Weekly December issue. The interview was about our journey with the Victoria, including how the Starlight Children's Foundation has made such a positive difference during our journey. We traveled to Sydney for the photo shoot, which was an experience in itself.

We all had our hair and makeup done. Some enjoyed it more than others!

The girls had never spent so much time doing their hair.

There was a lot of laughter in the room.

It was quite a shock to see Charlotte with straight hair, looking about 15!

The girls had the best day!

The children thought it was hilarious seeing Ken getting make up on and having his hair blow-dried.

For me, it was a little piece of luxury I think I could easily get used to.

I even had to get my nails done, just in case there was a close up photo of my hands.

After our hair and make-up was done,came the difficult task of choosing what to wear for the photo shoot.

Often in the hospital I would think, 'How did we get here?' Well, here we were in a completely different situation, and I was thinking 'How did we get HERE?',  at a photoshoot for a magazine with a 2.3 million readership both here and in New Zealand! I know it is by the grace of God that we are where we are today, a restored thriving family. 

We are grateful to the Australian Women's Weekly for enabling us to share our story. We had hoped the article would include something about the source of our strength, God, however that appears to have been edited out. We pray that God will still use the article for His purposes.

The Australian Women's Weekly gave a very generous donation to The Starlight Children's Foundation, which will fund a complete wish for another child. If you would like to donate to The Starlight Children's Foundation, please click here. (You may recognise the child on their front web page!).

The PR has also included posters in Woolworths, Trade secret and The Starlight Children's Foundation Christmas direct mail campaign. The Starlight Children's Foundation have looked after us so well during all these sessions, very mindful that we are sharing a very painful personal journey. Their level of professionalism has been fantastic.

All the children have enjoyed seeing their photo in the magazine. Marshall has even autographed a copy for his teacher!

So life here is full of fun and excitement at the moment as we immerse ourselves in the PR world. Victoria continues to diligently do her leg stretching each day. She has a new splint which has relieved a lot of the difficulties she was having with the old one due to a growth spurt. When we see how well she is today, all we can do is say 'Thank you God for the grace you have shown Victoria, and us as a family.' 

This week as I said good-bye to Victoria in the car park at school, she went off skipping and laughing to class, I thought about last year and the strong attachment she had to me and the tears we had each morning about school. I thought about the beautiful people who helped her with that transition, teachers, high school students who were her 'buddies' on the bus, school friends, school mums and of course her brother and sister. And then I thought what a truly amazing community we live in, and how blessed we are. I know I have said it before, but I am going to say it again, thank you to everyone that has at some stage comforted, cuddled or just held her hand over the past four years. The love you have shown her has helped her to know in her heart, that despite what is going on for her, she is loved.

Something a little different to finish with today. This was sent to my husband by one of his most faithful friends and I thought it was worth sharing. I found it to be a good reminder of God's rightful place in our lives.

Good morning: I am God

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems.
Please remember that I do not need your help.

If the devil happens to deliver a situation that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, DO NOT hold onto it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem.

If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. 

Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest, my child. If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hope lives in me

How I love this photo! It was taken on Saturday at the Cancer Council's Relay for Life, under the creative direction of a friend's father.  Hope is the key message of the Relay for Life. As Christian's 'hope' ... in Jesus, is the key message of our lives. 

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13 The Message

It is that life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit that I see in Victoria in this photo. 

We got the results of Victoria's scan yesterday, and they were good, praise God. The word continues to be 'stable'. Of course we are always wanting 'gone', but for the time being we will gladly accept 'stable'. 

From a medical perspective this means the gap between scans will be extended to 4 months, with the next one being in March 2015. While this may not seem like a big deal to most people, it is huge to those who have lived this life. Three months comes around very quickly. For us normally 2 weeks before the scan we are fighting anxieties and then it takes 2 weeks after the scan to resume to 'normal' life.  So that only leaves 8 weeks in which we are living life without 'the scan' being the focus. Even though we have been doing this pattern for almost four years, we still struggle with the anxiety each in our own way. Please pray that we can get breakthrough in this area. It is a very draining way to live!

For me, around the scan time I find I become like Thomas (John 20;27), doubting that there will be victory for Victoria. Our previous experiences with the tumour, the doctor's words are all swirling around in my mind. Yesterday morning before getting the results, I felt Jesus say to me, 'Do you believe your family can have a life without cancer?' Given our experiences, that is a very big question! To be honest, some days I grapple with the answer to this question. 

My prayer is for the entire 4 months, right up until the time we walk into the oncologist's office, that I will be able to believe with faith like Abraham.

No unbelief or distrust made him waiver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He has promised. Romans 4:20-21 AMP

As I have said before, we are so grateful for all the restoration God has done within our family over the past 12 months. We will continue to be a family who runs to Jesus for promised hope. After all He has bought us through, how could we not?

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:18b-20 The Message

On a slightly different note, as Christmas approaches, why not consider giving the gift of blood? While Victoria has not had to have a blood transfusion, we have met lots of precious children who have required blood. Did you know that one donation can potentially save three lives? If you meet the strict donor requirements, please consider donating blood in the next couple of months.

Thank you for continuing to uphold Victoria and our family in prayer. Thank you for standing with us on this long and often overwhelming journey. Thank for supporting us in so many practical ways. Thank you for loving us. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Memories, Anxieties and Love

The countdown is on! I found Victoria in her room the other night accessing teddy's port, getting her ready for the scan on Monday. This is the very same teddy bear, given to Victoria by a Great Aunt, that was used by the wonderful play therapist at John Hunter Hospital, Veronica, to explain the steps of the 'port accessing' procedure to Victoria in July 2012.

What a faithful teddy!  And what a faithful God we have. It has now been just over 12 months since Victoria stopped chemotherapy treatment. She continues to thrive in every area of her life, physically, emotionally, academically, socially and spiritually.

Same smile, same zest for life despite all the challenges she has had to face. We are so very grateful for this treatment free 12 months, which has brought restoration, not only for Victoria but for our entire family. We have a faithful God.

The anxieties of a couple of weeks ago, in relation to the MRI on Monday, have almost completely gone. Praise God. Time spent meditating on scriptures, praying and worshiping have all been key strategies in dealing with the anxieties. During this time, God spoke specifically to me about how He carries us. If you are feeling like you need to be carried at the moment, please have a read on my God Girl Blog - Carry them forever

The lovely distraction of a family overnight visit to Sydney courtesy of the Starlight Children's Foundation has also helped reduced the anxiety. What a blessing to walk along Manly Beach as the sun is rising. The beach and ocean looked stunning.

For the majority of the walk I sang praises to God, rejoicing in all He has done and giving thanks for His grace on our lives. By the end of an hour of walking and praising I was literally in tears, overwhelmed with His love for me. As I was walking back past a beach-side cafe, I noticed this sign, which I hadn't seen at the start of the walk, as I was in complete awe of the light and the ocean.

As I read these words, more tears came, as the truth of these words resonated in my heart with what I had just experienced on my walk. God's heart for me and you is nothing but love.

And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. 1 John 4:16 AMP

Thank you for continuing to uphold our family in prayer. We will receive the results of Monday's MRI on Thursday. We continue to choose Jesus as our Rock.

The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower. Psalm 18:2 AMP

For anyone interested, the final 2 posts of my writing on Speak Your Mind, have been published on the ABC Open site. In these posts I share strategies to help your children with their emotional health. Please pass the links on to anyone you think may benefit from these strategies.

Part 5 - Helping our children cope with fear and anxiety

Part 6 - Effective family communication and responsibilities

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Celebrating birthdays and victories

This week Victoria celebrated her seventh birthday. Hallelujah! In all seriousness it is a major Hallelujah! when you consider what she has been through in the past few years. We are grateful to God that she is still with us. Victoria is truly a reminder of the grace God has shown our family.

Earlier this year the Starlight Foundation made a video of Victoria and our family about the impact of the granting of Victoria's wish to go to the snow. All the Starlight Fundraising dinners have finished for the year, and the video is now available on You Tube. If you want to view it, please click on this here and go to Victoria's starlight story. Having a box of tissues nearby might be a good idea.

Thank you to everyone who was praying for the success of the hand training Victoria was doing during the holidays. Victoria achieved all three of her goals with great success. She even had time to work on a couple of other goals, such as spreading icing on cupcakes! We are very grateful to the therapists that are conducting this research, for their creativity and immense patience! 

The approach taking in this training is called CO-OP - Cognitive orientation to daily occupational performance (CO-OP). If you are interested, here is the blurb about it.

 'CO-OP enables children to discover the answer to problems themselves. We don't give them the answers, however we can make it obvious to them by talking through the activity and bringing their attention to specific components of the activity. Rather than telling, we can ask lots of questions. Try to break tasks down and work on one thing at a time, so as not to overwhelm your child. Celebrate the successes your child achieves.'

The strategy they used for achieving each goal was called - Goal, Plan, Do, Check

GOAL = something you want to do
PLAN = how you are going to get the goal done - the steps you need to take to reach the goal
DO = carrying out the plan
CHECK = checking to see if the plan worked, it you reached your goal

This strategy resonated with me, coming from a background in Project Management. Victoria has been able to use the strategy at home with other activities, such as cracking an egg. Goal - to crack the egg without getting any shell in the cup. Plan - hold egg over cup, tap egg with knife until a crack appears, gently press on crack with thumbs whilst holding egg, don't push fingers through the back of the egg, using thumbs pull the egg apart so yoke drops into cup. Do - do it. Check - look in the cup to see if there is any shell.

It is a very practical way to teach anyone anything, but it does require a lot of patience, time and 'keeping your mouth shut' whilst they learn from the mistakes and continually refine their plan!

The whole learning experience, skills gained, goals reached and other children Victoria met was a huge blessing to her. And praise God we survived the 8am starts each morning in the holidays!

Part 3 and 4 of my strategies for dealing with Low level depression have been published on ABC Open in the past couple of weeks. If you want to read them, please click on these links. If you know of anyone who might benefit from these strategies, please pass the links on to them.

As you know, Jesus is the Rock that I have been standing on throughout this entire journey. This passage of scripture best sums up the what I believe about Jesus and the trials we have faced. I pray that it is encouraging and gives hope to others who are facing trials of any magnitude in their lives.

Praised (honoured, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. [Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God's power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. 1 Peter 1:3-7 AMP

Thank you for everyone who continues to pray for Victoria and our family. We are thankful to God that Victoria continues to thrive and be a blessing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Perseverance pays

Here is the beautiful Lily who has helped out twice a week for the past 6 weeks with Victoria's leg stretches. Lily has been such a blessing to Victoria and indeed our whole family. Not only is she proficient at stretching, she is fantastic at braiding hair! Alexandra is always the first one in line!

The physio confirmed last week that all the stretching has been worthwhile. Victoria's hamstring muscle is now well within an acceptable range. Her calf muscle is still on the threshold, however it hasn't gotten worse. So Victoria is still standing on the wedge daily for 20 minutes and wearing the night boot to give the calf a good sustained stretch while she sleeps.

The first week of hand motor training has been successful, with Victoria achieving her three goals in some way. There are still improvements to be had, but her focus and determination has been paying off. 

One of Victoria's goals was to tie her shoelaces. There was one small hitch to this goal, Victoria didn't have any shoes with laces! We were going to use an old pair of Charlotte's shoes. However, when we were at the hospital last week one of the nurses gave the girls some shoes, one pair, which fitted Victoria perfectly, had laces!! We are so grateful for the generosity people continue to show to our family, and for God's perfect timing.

The other benefit of this group training is that Victoria is meeting other children who face similar physical challenges to herself, giving a sense of 'normality' to her physical world, that she doesn't often get.  

This post I wanted to share some statistics relating to Camp Quality, an organisation that has helped our family enormously since we began this cancer journey. As we get wrapped up in our own world it can be easy to loose sight of the number of children and families that are also doing this journey. Here are some of the statistics relating to Australia.

3,137 families living with cancer, spread all over Australia, are part of the Camp Quality family.

7016 children living with cancer across Australia have access to Camp Quality programs

In the last 12 months Camp Quality teams across Australia have successfully delivered 73 family camps, 96 family fun days, 55 kids camps catering for children from the age of four to seventeen.

There are many ways you can support Camp Quality, if you want to know more, please click here.

On my last post I shared a link to some writing I have posted on the ABC Open site about low level depression. Part 2 of this writing has been now been posted, Moving out of the mire of low level depression. If you want to read it, please click here. Or if you know someone who might benefit from my thoughts and strategies, please pass the link on to them.

Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for Victoria. We know that God has His hand on her and that He is faithful.

Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is he who has the God of [special revelation to] Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, Who keeps truth and is faithful forever. Psalm 146:5-6 AMP

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Therapy, therapy and therapy

It seems as though there is always something significant going on in Victoria's life. This last month has been no different. She has continued diligently each day to do the 40 minutes stretching of her left leg muscles. We will find out on Thursday what the next stage is in that therapy.

Monday afternoons have been filled with fun in the local hydrotherapy pool, again with the goal of stretching out the left leg muscles. This will continue for the next few weeks.

The riding adventures on Sprinkles have definitely been a highlight of the last few months. Victoria was invited to participate in the Riding for the Disabled Regional Mounted Games at Raymond Terrace. She competed very well, remembering all she has been taught regarding steering Sprinkles in the right direction, and giving commands for stopping and starting.

The stopping command with the reigns is tricky for Victoria. Having less strength in her left hand and arm, when she pulls on the reigns to stop, Sprinkles often veers to the right, as she naturally pulls harder on the right reign! Needless to say, the riding is very good therapy for strengthening her left arm.

All the training paid off, with Victoria winning 3 ribbons in the Led Rider events, 1st in Flagging, 2nd is Bending and 4th in Barrels. Of course I cried when she received these awards, so absolutely grateful to God that she has had this opportunity to be involved in this sport, and has been able to achieve so well. And so very grateful to all the volunteers at RDA who have made the training possible, and have shown such care and dedication to all the riders. They are another of the many blessings we have received despite the circumstances.

School holidays commence on Monday, but there will be little rest for Victoria, as she is participating in a research study entitled 'Functional splinting effectiveness in children with neurological conditions'!  The study aims to find effective treatment options to improve hand use in children with neurological conditions. 

As you can see from this photo, Victoria has limited movement in her left wrist. Yesterday, Victoria and the Occupational Therapist involved in the study came up with 3 goals for Victoria to achieve over the 2 weeks of daily 1 hour therapy sessions:
1. Tying shoelaces
2. Playing keys on piano with all fingers on left hand
3. Doing her own hair in a pony tail

These might all seem like simple tasks to use who have two fully functioning hands. But for Victoria with limited strength and functionality these tasks are very challenging. It is a blessing for Victoria to be a part of this study, and hence receive extra therapy to increase her independence.

During the therapy sessions, and practice sessions, Victoria will wear this splint to give her hand extra support. She has already given it a name, 'the spy glove'. Please pray that these therapy sessions will be effective and Victoria will be able to achieve the goals she herself. 

So as you can see we have been making the most of these treatment free months, helping Victoria to physically improve as much as possible. On the 3rd October it will be 12 months since the chemotherapy treatment stopped. I know I have said it before, but I will say it again, we are so grateful to God that Victoria is so well, and thriving in every way. 

This time off treatment has also given me the opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired over the past few years. There have been some very deep lows and some very big highs. At times the lows have been very very difficult to navigate through. In an effort to encourage and help other people who may find themselves in a similar situation, I have written about my own experiences of being a carer, suffering low level depression, and the strategies I used to get through. My story is posted as part of the latest ABC Open project, Speak you mind. If you are interested in reading about it, click on this link The Carer needs to be cared for
I had so much to write about, it has been split into 4 parts and will be posted weekly over the next 4 weeks. If you know someone who you think might benefit from this information, please share the link to this post.

Ultimately it has been my ever faithful God that has pulled me through, accompanied with the love, prayers and support of family and friends. Thank you to everyone who has helped me in some way get to where I am today, in a very good place!

Keep and protect me, O God, for in You I have found refuge, and in You do I put my trust and hide myself. I say to the Lord, You are my Lord; I have no good beside you or beyond You...The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage. I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety, For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your holy one [Holy One] to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16;1-2, 5-11 AMP

Please pray that Victoria will continue to be her namesake, victorious and a conqueror, in all areas of her life. And that Ken and I will be alert to any attacks that may come prior to the next scan on November 3rd. Thank you

Friday, August 15, 2014

MRI, TV Filming and Stretches

First things first, the MRI indicated the tumour is stable! Praise God. Thank you to everyone who prayed for this result, and that Victoria could again to the MRI without the General Anesthetic. This result means another three months treatment free. It means that Victoria will be able to complete an entire year of school without being on treatment. The next MRI is scheduled for 3rd November 2014.

Such is the diversity in Victoria's life, an MRI in the morning, and then filming at Swansea Library for a segment on the Today Show, about the BaRK reading program in the afternoon! The library phoned a couple of weeks ago, wondering if Victoria would be part of the promotion for the program. Of course she said yes, as BaRK is such a great program.
We were so proud of Victoria as she read so clearly and with so much expression! With the help of extra reading support at school and the BaRK program, Victoria's reading has improved by almost 10 levels since the beginning of the year.

Being able to complete the year of schooling with minimal interruptions will position her so well for next year.  We are so grateful that this prayer has been answered.

Alexandra and I had the privilege of attending the book launch of 'Dogs that make a difference'. A book published by the Delta Society Australia. It is a collection of stories from the volunteers about "the people they have come to know, lessons they have learned and the ways they have seen firsthand how a bundle of soft fur, a wagging tail, and a wet nose can make a difference to someone's life." The dogs that Victoria has had interactions with both in hospital and through the BaRK program, all did an autograph dog style (paw print) in the book! Alexandra enjoyed catching up with Zac.

In my last blog post I asked for prayer for Victoria's left leg, as the plantar fascia muscle, calf muscle and hamstring muscles had all tightened substantially, giving Victoria considerable pain when she walked. Anyone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis will know exactly what I mean. Speaking from personal experience, it is painful! 

Victoria's physiotherapist gave her some stretches to do each day; a 20 minute sustained stretch of the hamstring combined with a foot massage, followed by a 20 minute sustained stretch of the calf muscle. The photo above is Victoria standing on a 'wedge' which helps to give a better stretch of the calf. 

Thankfully a combination of iPad games and home-reading helped to pass the time. Also, a lovely teenage girl has come to help out with the stretches for a couple of afternoons, which has made a huge difference to me and given Victoria a bit of variety. We are so blessed by the community we live in.

The prayers and stretches have worked, another Praise God! When we visited the physiotherapist this week, she advised that the muscles were just in the acceptable range, so casting would not be required. However, we do have to continue with the daily stretching routine for at least another month. We have now set up a reward chart for both Victoria and myself! I have already chosen my reward.

We are very grateful for these excellent results regarding the tumour and Victoria's leg muscles. The 'havoc' of the two weeks leading up to the scan has once again been proven to be nothing other than mind-games and an attempt to steal our peace. Thank you again for your prayers and support as we continue on and Victoria Grace continues to live out her name - Victorious, Conqueror, Favour and Blessing.

Finally, as for me, the mother who feels so deeply for all her daughter has overcome and will have to overcome in the future, this scripture sums up my heart and mind:

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28 AMP