On January 27, 2011 Eric Merkley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. An aggressive cancer that we hope and the doctors to this point seem confident that is contained to one spot on his leg. Prognosis is good. Treatments and recovery will be long and painful.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More lessons to be learned

We have been gearing up all weekend long to prepare to head to the hospital today.... Got a lot done! :) 

Well.... we got the phone call from James at PMC with Eric's blood counts.  His ANC is too low to come and start Doxirubican.  Everything else looks good, except we still don't know about his heart.   I asked James why his ANC would go down with no treatment... was it a virus?  There are no signs of a virus, but James said that it is common to get to the end of treatment and his body/bone marrow just gets exhausted and has a hard time rebuilding.  Once again I am reminded how difficult this treatment is on these miracles we call bodies.

Having said that I still can not tell you how frustrating it was to hear the news.  I am the type of person who needs to plan ahead of time and these past couple of months have taught me to just go with the flow, because events change minute by minute.  So I thought I was doing really good, but this morning was... frustrating!  Eric was pretty upset also, but what can you do??  Well I went and pulled weeds for 2 hours!  This whole summer (since I have not been home) I have just ignored those really ugly weeds in my back yard.  Sorry Neighbors!  Well as I was pulling away, the thought came to me that things will happen when it is the "right" time, not on my schedule.  So deep breathe and we will learn once again to be patient.  Please keep Eric in your prayers so that we can finish this really bumpy road. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So Long Jace

Elder Spencer and dad Spencer

We made it to Jace's Farewell.  Jace is going to Everett Washington on his mission.  He did an amazing job speaking in church, actually he made me cry!  Aunt Janet made a cake for Jace that said "Elder Spencer".  The cake was amazing chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

I have been so worried about Jacob, who received his bone marrow transplant.  I was checking the blog several times a day on Friday and Saturday.  I finally texted Jacob's mom, Liz, to see how they are doing and was so relieved to hear that all was well.  I have already linked Jacob's blog to Eric's.  But as I read through their experience, it brought tears to my eyes once again to hear how Heavenly Father is truly looking out for these amazing young people who are fighting for their lives.  Please take the time to read the August 27th  post.


 I remember when Eric was in getting his first MRI at Dr Weenig's office and Cheryl Brown had just heard the news, and as I was pouring my heart and fears to her, she kept saying over and over again that miracles do happen. They do happen and I have witness them  many times over the past couple of months.  It is very humbling to hear of more miracles that happen in other families. 

After that dreadful day, I emailed my Uncle and told him about what was going on and I will never forget his reply... "Just remember that Heavenly Father loves that boy more, than even you.  Just watch great things are going to happen."  When I first read that, I thought that no one can love him more than me.  But I also know that we can not even begin to comprehend Heavenly Fathers love for us.  As I watched Eric suffer and be so sick, I was so humbled to think that I just got a tiny taste of what our Heavenly Father went through as he watch Jesus Christ suffer in Gethsemane.  This life is not only a journey but it is an opportunity for us to learn and grow.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Monday

Eric will be getting his blood drawn either today or tomorrow, mainly because they are curious since it has been over a week since they checked his blood counts. We are scheduled to be at the hospital at 2:00 on Monday. Everything should check out fine to begin the last round of Doxiorubican. So here we go to the finish line.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day of Fun and Sun

Can I just say what a fun day it was yesterday?  Well it was great to get away and laugh at these two.  We are sure going to miss Jace, but we know he will be an amazing missionary.  Eric is getting stronger every day that he is away from the chemo treatments.  At least he will be going into the last treatments strong.  Have we mentioned he only has 3 left???

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Feeling Great

This morning, Jace and Eric... well mainly Jace helped me with a few repairs at the theater.  Eric basically "Stupor vised".  Jace was telling me that he is getting bored waiting to leave on his mission, so I told him I would put him to work... well he decided to practice being a surgeon.  He told us that he could have saved us sooo much money if we would have allowed him to do the surgery.  :)  Gotta love those boys!  Other than that, Eric is feeling great and willing to even do errands with me (how boring).  We went to the mall yesterday and Eric bought a new pair of church shoes.  Did I mention that they are a size 14?    His new foot will be interesting to fit in any shoe.  Eric finally took his leg off in Mr Mac to put his basketball shoe back on, because it was easier that way.  Our salesman was a good sport about it.   He did buy a pair that will work, so he is set for Jace's Farewell meeting on Sunday!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Still complaining, but good news

Eric was still complaining today about being sent home yesterday, but our time home has turned out to be very productive.  Eric's vehicle that he has been driving has a manual  transmission, and we decided that it would probably be better at this point to sell "Becca" and get a car with an automatic transmission.  Where we have been living at the hospital, it has been difficult to get serious about selling it... Well we sold it today!!  Yeah!  Now he is looking forward to checking out cars for sell.  We have also put Clint on notice to look for us.  :)

Say goodbye to Becca

Eric stopped by the theater to complain to them, but they would not listen to him...  They did get him a Pepsi and offered some popcorn!  For some reason, he is tired of the popcorn... go figure.

Last year Eric was asked to dance in a Ballet with Rachel.  To every one's surprise, he said he would.  He also swore me to secrecy.  He did not want anyone to know that he was going to be in a ballet!  This is the picture of Eric being a "Prince" in Sleeping beauty.  Jace was also in the ballet.   Eric and Jace have talents beyond any ones imagination. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lesson for the Day, Patience!

Eric's blood results yesterday, showed that all was well, except his platelets.  They need to be 75 for Doxirubicen and his was 65.  Where this was his last doxi treatment, they were going to let us go ahead to get it... Well.... We got there and had his Echo Cardiogram and then proceeded up to get checked in... Let me back up a little...
As I have mentioned in previous posts, Eric usually comes home and is eating, drinking and hanging out with friends... last weekend he did not get out of bed, eat or drink anything.  He had a really bad sore throat and a few sores in his mouth.  When we learned that he was not going to be able to be admitted on Tuesday, I thought he would be upset for the delay, but actually was just as relieved as I was to have a few extra "bonus" days at home.  As time went by, he became more active, still not eating a whole lot, but feeling better.  He had to listen to me last night about how he needed to be more proactive by eating and drinking water to regain his strength...
After they accessed his port and got fluids going today, they received the results from the echo cardiogram.  One of the numbers they watch is a number that indicates how his heart is squeezing the blood out of his heart.  28 or below they become cautious and will not allow for doxi treatment....  Well Eric's number was 28!  So they sent us home.  Eric was very upset and wanted to get it over with, but Dr. Spraker, knowing he would be upset came and talked to us and explained that we can not tax his heart more than it already is and that if we just give his body one more week to recover and heal, then we can proceed with the final 3 treatments.  She said that sometimes dehydration can contribute to his hearts struggle... hum...  They were also concerned with his weight loss.  He lost 3 Kilos from last week which translate to 7 pounds.  I picked up a new appetite stimulant for him. 
I know that he was pretty upset, but I appreciate the fact that they watch many different numbers to keep his body from being overloaded more than it can handle.  I also appreciate that as much as I would love to have this over with, I feel SO much better, giving him a chance to get stronger, his platelets an opportunity to go up and gain some weight before they hit him again.
They wanted to admit Eric next Friday (after they do another echo cardiogram), but we have asked if they can wait until the 29th because Jace's Farewell is on the 28th of August.  They don't like to give his body too much time in between chemo treatments, but have agreed to give Eric a few more days.  Because he has not had any other delays, they think he will be okay. 
There you go, you now have the low down on our day.  We are looking forward to a week off from the hospital and we will need to find some fun things to do in the mean time... 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Slight Delay

We were scheduled to go in tomorrow for doxirubican, but have encountered our first delay.  Eric's platelets are too low to start the next round of chemo.  I have to admit that I am actually relieved to give Eric a couple more days to recuperate and feel a little bit stronger.  He has had me very worried these past couple of days.  Usually he comes home from the hospital and takes off with his friends.  Not this week.  He has been down in bed.  I did talk him into driving to town with me to get a few groceries tonight, but he has a lot of strength to regain.... I am grateful for the extra days that were given to us.  So we will retest his blood on Thursday and if his platelets have come up to where they need to be, we will go in on Friday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So Close

We actually got our hopes up this morning thinking that we were going to have a bonus day and go home early.... but missed the clearance by .02. DANG IT!! Eric has been experiencing pretty bad headaches for the past couple of days. I asked Dr Spraker about it and she said she would look at his blood counts and see if we can give him ibuprofen. Well they approved it for a 24 hour period only. WOHOO..Well the pills never came, so Andi called down and asked where it was (While a chemo doc was in Eric's room, checking on him, and confirming that it was okay for Eric to have some ibuprofen...) The pharmacist said that he will NOT be sending some, because Eric can not have it while getting Methotrexate. I have to say that I have always thought that the pharmacist just count pills, but since this cancer crisis, I have learned that they are smart cookies and they know their chemicals. So Eric had to stay with drugs that really does not do much for headaches. His blood count was very low and was given a blood transfusion this afternoon, which has helped his headaches, who knew....

So we will plan on going home tomorrow morning. We are suppose to be back here Tuesday morning at 9:00am for an echo cardiogram then they will start the next round... if his blood is high enough. I will have to admit, I am still worried. I am more worried about the platelets being too low... so we will see.

Eric did hear the great news the other night. His friends put Eric on speaker phone while Tyler opened his mission call... to Washington DC. Congraduations Tyler. You will be a great missionary.

Jace's farewell is August 28 and he is going to Washington State, so it is sooo important to stay on schedule so we can be there to the farewell... If we are here at the hospital, I think we will have to break out, because we do not want to miss Jace's farewell!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All is quiet here at PMC. Eric is feeling pretty good and was awake for a good portion of the day yesterday. So we will keep hanging in there until Saturday, when he should be cleared to go home.

Sorry not a lot to report. Not even any good "Eric" stories. Other than he is quite the flirt with the nurses.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#15 underway

Eric's new crocheted sock. I laughed when he said he wanted one, but I think he just wanted me to do another project for him and not Macklyn..... :) My baby is jealous about the baby.....
I think the sock looks like a sock straight out of a Dr Seuss book...Now that takes talent. :)

#15 treatment. Methotrexate is yellow as you can see. If you will notice the brown bag, it covers the chemo, because light will compromise the chemo... that is how sensitive it is.

We have about an hour left of this drip and so far so good. He was able to make the counts to start this chemo treatment.... obviously. I was concerned when I heard how low they are, but the doctor said that as long as we keep viruses away from him, he should be able to stay on schedule for the next treatment. Eric does pretty good about keeping the germs off his hands... the kissing may be a different issue. When we admit Eric, it is now a common occurrence to have the Nurse Practitioner ask for "Eric" stories. She told him today that she lives for his stories. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Man I am old

Yesterday was my birthday and yes I am getting old! It was a great day spent with Daryl, McKell, Eric and the love of my life, Todd. We missed Todd's 4 kids that live in Kaysville and Tonya and Clint that live in Elko,  the miles to Elk Ridge are too long.

Because we were outside, I had to pretend to blow out the candles, like Eric. Of course the candles were melting in the hot Dutch oven cake... That's okay, we just picked out the wax. :)

Daryl and McKell (and little Macklyn, but you can't see her yet)

The mighty chef!

Eric showing his muscles
Like I say it was a great day! We are waiting for Eric's Nurse to come and do a blood draw to see if he is eligible to be admitted again tomorrow morning. He is doing great and to make it better is we only have 4 more treatments left! I know I have already mentioned that .... BUT we are getting closer!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We are honored

Yesterday as we were leaving the hospital, Eric wanted to go and tell Steven Good Bye, so we knocked on his door and poked our heads in and had the honor of meeting Elder Paul V Johnson, aka Steven's grandpa.  (I hope I am not out of line here...) I had the oppurturnity to tell him that his talk in the last general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints was my favorite, which also gave me and Eric and oppurturnity to talk about it again on the way home...Paul V Johnson General Conference talk 4/2011.  I had heard about Steven shortly after Eric was diagnosed and knew that Steven was in Elder Johnson's family.  So as he spoke in GC I knew he was speaking of Steven (Osteosarcomas world is very small).  The part that is my favorite and I have thought about alot since his talk is

"Our Heavenly Father loves us, and we “know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”18 Someday when we get to the other side of the veil, we want more than for someone just to tell us, “Well, you’re done.” Instead, we want the Lord to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”19

I know that Heavenly Father will be very pleased with Eric and the way he has handled this trial in his life. 

I know that Eric wanted to tell Steven Goodbye and to hang in there, because he was going to be stuck in the hospital for a least another day.  How cool is it to have a Grandpa who is able to make time for to "hang out" with Steven while his parents are busy.

Eric came home and went right to bed to sleep.  As I was running around trying to get some things done for the theater, Todd and I ran to Provo to get supplies.  When I made it home, Eric was gone.... he must of been feeling better, because he went to dinner and a party.  Amazing how quickly he feels better.  :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

.08.... We are heading home

This morning, I was a little nervous to ask where his metho levels were this morning, but finally got the nerve and asked.... it is .08, which means we get to go home!!!! After last night I will probably want to be in bed by 8:00. It is funny how each nurse is so different in styles, which makes a big difference in the middle of the night. Oh well at least it was only one night, right?!
Yesterday was a great day, Eric was awake for a while, he was sung to by Dave (RN) but the best part was we went for another walk. It is such a joy to visit with people along the way. We ran into Dr Spraker again and she just discovered Creamies! Standing around talking about them made me crave one. Then we went on to the patio. It felt great to get some fresh air and we knew we only had a limited time before his bag of fluids ran out and as we were visiting, a young boy named Steven came with his mom out on the patio. I have heard about him and was given his blog site a few weeks ago. So I have become one of those blog stalkers. :) They came over and visited with us for a while. They asked Eric a few questions about his prosthesis. Of course Eric was more than happy to show them how it works. I think Steven will be getting his new leg soon. I will try to figure out how to link their blog on ours, if I can't figure it out, I will ask for reinforcements... McKell. These kids are amazing and as I am meeting more kids with cancer, I realize what tough little cookies they are.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Right on Schedule

This round has been going so much better than last months rounds of Chemo. He has been awake and joking with me and the nurses. He has been eating and yesterday we went for a walk on the patio. We ran into Dr Spraker in the hall and she is funny and always comments on how tall he is. We did get rained on so we just sat in the lobby and watched people walk by.

Dr Randal came by this morning and was giving Eric a hard time about not being here when he came by yesterday. But he was happy that he was getting up and moving around. Dr Price has now moved to Kentucky. We will miss hiim. He was a lot of fun to visit with.

Yesterday post was not intended to be all about me. I reread it and was worried about not putting enough about Eric and his recovery. But it was something that was on my mind and heart yesterday as I was driving back to the hospital the night before and felt like I needed to share. But Eric is one of my heroes. He still just has an amazing attitude. Shortly after he got his new leg I asked him (Sorry if I have already posted this story) if he ever looks down and feels bad that his leg is no longer there, because I think that at some time he should grieve for his leg. His answer was no..... Do you? I told him that I would be lying if I said that I have not looked down and saw that space and my heart would ache a little. That is why it was such a huge day to have him back on both legs. We still joke with him about his "new lifestyle". I remember Ty's mom saying that a strange comment she would make to Ty was "are you going to put your leg on today?" Well I have asked that question before. We told Dr Randal that Eric has been golfing a couple of times, on the basketball court and even bowling. He said that if we would have "Saved" his leg, he would not be doing any of those. We have never regretted the decision on the surgery.

Eric was given a list of UFC fights from Make a wish to choose from, since that is what he wants his wish to be. Which means we may need to change our "End of treatment" open house. We should find out in a couple of days if the 24th is going to stick. He is pretty excited about the fights though. Daryl will be going with him (we asked for permission to allow Daryl to go and enjoy the fights with him). It will be a fun trip for the boys! I think Todd and I may run away somewhere else... :). It does appear that we will probably be going home tomorrow morning or evening. Than back again on Tuesday. BUT we only have 4 more!!!!!

I can never say enough how much we appreciate your love and support! Thank you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You don't count the cost

Last night I had the opportunity to snuggle up to my honey for a couple of hours as we listened to Billy Dean in concert in Sandy. This song "You don't count the cost" I have always loved, but has taken on a new meaning... so if you will allow me a mom moment...
It is very common on the oncology floor to run into moms and hear their stories of what their little (sometimes big) ones are going through and I have heard many times that "Man at least we don't have it as bad as you." (Funny thing is I think the same way about them.) Each story just tears at your heart but you will always find a mom that will stand by their little one, regardless of the cost. We have truly felt blessed and I know in my heart that all will be well in a few more weeks, where Eric will be able to go on with his life and forget this year. I know you are thinking that he will never be able to forget with a consent reminder, but he will forget the pain, the lessons learned will stay with him forever. I have said many times times that "I don't know what Heavenly Father has planned for him, but it will be fun to watch." Doors are already starting to open for him, that would have never been opened if he was not forced to go through these lessons.
The lessons learned here have not only been for him, but for our family. You have heard me moan through this process, because my heart has felt like it has been torn out of my chest watching him suffer. But the many times that we have had together, the talks and the belly laughs that have left us both in tears and me about peeing my pants will always be cherished.

I have been told since the beginning from friends of all religions that "God does not give us more than we can handle." I have heard this my whole life and I have believed it until January.... Todd wlll attest to the many tearful breakdowns I have had, that I did not feel strong enough to watch Eric go through this. The conversations always ended with Todd being the sound of reason and it also helped to have him by my side to keep me standing up and filling in all the gaps that I was unable to fill, rather emotionally, at home or at the theater.

A friend of the family for many years called shortly after she read the article about Eric in the newspaper and told me that Heavenly Father knows and understands what we need to go through to make us stronger to handle even tougher obstacles in our paths down the line, because he can see the "big" picture. (Funny that is exactly what my Patriarchal blessing says about my life) That some of our biggest trials will be the greatest tender mercies from our Heavenly Father, as we look back. I truly believe this. I also believe that if Eric would have gotten this tumor when most kids do between the age of 9-13 (it still happens in older kids, like Eric) I don't think I could have handled it with all the other drama going on in my life. That drama has opened the door to having the most amazing guy come into my life and helped me to be stronger, more confident, more relaxed and he has taught me to have fun. This dear friend pointed out what life would have been like, if I had not been through that "Prior trial" and was living as status quo. A shiver litterly ran through me. Timing is everything and Heavenly Father is very aware of us and loves us so much, that he will wait until we are ready. This cancer has been a huge lesson for our whole family, not just Eric. I also know that it has touched a lot of lives around us. I can tell by the tears in many of your eyes as you have asked how he was doing. All in all when it comes down to it, you cherish those wonderful moments and you don't count the cost.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#14 ready to go

Yesterday when I got the call from James at PMC to let me know the details for today, he told me that Eric's platelets were 49. They need to be 50 to be admitted for another round of Chemo. But after speaking with Dr Spraker, they decided it was close enough. Methotrexate does not lower the platelets very much. Dr Spraker said that we needed to keep him on schedule. I told Eric that his count on his Platelets were not high enough and man did he ever get upset. Of course I could not keep a straight face and gave in and told him that Dr Spraker was going to allow him to start his treatment regardless. He was so relieved that he said that is why he Loved Dr Spraker!

Well we stopped by Fit well to have this leg looked at, just in case they needed to make some adjustments. Scott had Eric Jumping up and Down and taking a few jogging steps. He was a little nervous that it would hurt to jump up and down, but said that it was not bad at all. He was encouraged to do 50 jumps 2 times a day.... I love that there are so many people who are working to get Eric playing ball again.

The Chemo has just made it here and they will start in the next couple of minutes. So it is time to break out the Mentos again. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fun Pics

Eric, London, Ridge, Tyler and Josh
Eric showed me these pictures and I had to add them to the blog.  Friends have been so important to Eric as he has plowed through this cancer issue.  And these friends have been by his side through this whole process.  They are great individuals and I am proud that they are Eric's friends. Tyler just put his papers in to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, London is taking off today to play basketball for Snow College.... I will need to find out what Ridge and Josh is doing... And Eric is heading back to PMC tomorrow for treatment #14.